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A vicious start to campaigning

The official launch of the local elections campaign has been marked by partisan violence and inflammatory language

The daily newspapers showing the top news stories in Maputo, Mozambique
Today’s front pages in Maputo. Photo credit: Faizal Chauque / Zitamar News

Good evening. News below that the regional office of the MDM, one of Mozambique’s opposition parties, was broken into and looted over the weekend has already been overtaken by more evidence that next month’s elections will be viciously fought.

Very early this morning, a group of sympathisers of Renamo, the largest opposition party, erupted on the dusty roads of the town of Mocímboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado province. They blamed ruling party Frelimo for bringing the “al shabaab” to Cabo Delgado, by which they meant the Mozambican army. The crowd was singing in Mwani, probably the main language in this coastal region. “Al shabaab” is a term used locally to refer to the Islamist terrorist insurgency, but because of atrocities committed by Mozambican armed forces in the area of Mocímboa, the term has been extended by locals to refer to them as well.

The latest from Zitamar News:

Return on the rise in Cabo Delgado, but communities vulnerable
The International Organization for Migration recorded over 540,000 returns in Cabo Delgado province by August 2023


  • Today: Council of Ministers’ weekly meeting
  • Today: Election campaign officially begins, until 8 October, for the municipal elections on 11 October
  • Tomorrow-Thursday: Mozambique Gas & Energy Summit & Exhibition (see below)

This reflects how deeply the insurgency has embedded itself in local politics, among locals who were forced to flee the insurgency and have spent over two years living in squalor in camps, and who now are called on to vote in their municipality, which has become a byword for violent extremism since October 2017.

The campaign officially started today, but social media have been flooded by the successive pictures of the onda vermelha, the “red waves” of crowds of supporters promoted by Frelimo, mainly in coastal municipalities of Nampula province, where major political battles are expected for control of places like Nacala, Mozambique Island and Angoche: all, at this point, in the hands of Renamo mayors.

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