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Mondlane reaches for the crown

A charismatic opposition contender for the presidential election could raise the stakes

Mondlane was Renamo’s mayoral candidate for the city of Maputo in the October 2023 local elections. Photo credit: Facebook/Venâncio Mondlane

Good afternoon. Two events, which were developing as this newsletter was being written, are adding excitement to the outlook for Mozambique’s presidential election. One is Venâncio Mondlane’s announcement today that he will seek to run for the leadership of Renamo, Mozambique’s largest opposition party. Although Mondlane seems not to have mentioned it explicitly, there can be little doubt that he is seeking the party leadership with a view to then becoming Renamo’s candidate for president of Mozambique in the October presidential election. That is certainly the view of Raúl Novinte, the Renamo mayor of the city of Nacala, whom Mondlane met today amid considerable publicity. Novinte endorsed Mondlane both for the party leadership and to be presidential candidate, becoming the first senior figure in Renamo to do so.

From the Zitamar Live Blog:

Zitamar Mozambique Live Blog
Venancio Mondlane, Renamo’s candidate for Maputo mayor at the last municipal elections, has today announced his candidacy to take over as leader of the party, challenging the incumbent Ossufo Momade. The high profile, charismatic, and energetic politician made the announcement in the city of Nacala Porto, alongside the outgoing mayor of that city, Raul Novinte, who endorsed Mondlane for the next president of the party and of Mozambique. Ossufo Momade’s five-year term as leader of Renamo ends this month, but no arrangements have yet been made for a leadership election. Such an election would normally happen at a party Congress, but none has been organised so far. However, if Mondlane wants to lead Renamo into this year’s presidential (and provincial and parliamentary) elections, he would need a leadership election to happen in the first half of this year. The deadline for parties to submit their presidential candidates to the election authorities is 10 June 2024.

Mondlane was of course Renamo’s mayoral candidate for the city of Maputo in the October 2023 local elections, which he would have won had ruling party Frelimo not manipulated the vote count. He has taken a more aggressive stance than party leader Ossufo Momade in the wake of the widespread fraud in favour of Frelimo in the local elections, holding marches and making political capital, and many people think he would make a better candidate for president.

To become the candidate, Mondlane would need to challenge Momade, whose spokesman was until recently asserting that he, Momade, would definitely be the Renamo candidate (see below). As things stand, Momade is still in a strong position to be selected. The candidate can be chosen by Renamo’s national council, whose makeup reflects the electorate that voted in Momade as leader in 2019. As we noted earlier this week, Renamo’s internal machinery is not very transparent or democratic, and it is likely that if Momade wanted to get the nomination, party managers would try any means necessary to ensure the vote went in his favour.

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