Maputo, 24 Jun (AIM) – Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi announced on Friday that a broad consensus has been reached on postponing the first elections for district assemblies, initially scheduled for 2024.
The package of constitutional amendments on decentralization, approved in 2018, included a commitment to hold the district elections in 2024. But the Constitution merely set the date – it did not say what powers district assemblies will have, or how they will relate to the existing provincial and municipal assemblies.
Last year, Nyusi called for a reflection on the feasibility of holding district elections in 2024. A Commission, known as CRED, was set up to discuss the matter, and concluded that the conditions for electing assemblies in 154 districts do not yet exist.
At the time, the opposition parties were outraged. Elections in 2024 were stipulated in the Constitution and must be held, they insisted.
But the main opposition party, Renamo, changed its position last week, when its leader, Ossufo Momade, suggested that the elections could be held in some districts, but not all of them.
Now, according to Nyusi, the entire opposition has dropped its call for district elections in 2024.
Speaking at a Maputo ceremony marking the end of the demobilization and disarmament of the Renamo militia, Nyusi said “a near common denominator in the meetings I held with groups of various sensitivities, including the political parties, was that the district elections should not be held”.
He announced the creation of another commission to discuss the best form of decentralization for Mozambique. The new commission will include political parties, academics, religious bodies and civil society organisations.
Unlike CRED, which was boycotted by the opposition, the opposition parties will be present in some strength on the new body. Nyusi said Renamo will have three members on the commission, who have already been appointed (but not yet publicly named). The second largest opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), will have two members, and even the group of 25 small, extra-parliamentary parties, who met with Nyusi on Wednesday, will have two representatives.
Nyusi said he will announce the full composition of the new commission next week. It will have a maximum of two years to draw up an appropriate model for decentralised governance, “without any pressure from the political calendar”.
The Constitution must be amended to remove the requirement that the first district elections will be held in 2024. The ruling Frelimo Party has submitted such an amendment, which sets no new dates, merely stipulating that the elections will be held when conditions allow.
The amendment will be debated at an extraordinary sitting of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, in August. If both Renamo and the MDM are now on board, the constitutional amendment is likely to pass unanimously.