terça-feira, julho 19, 2016

Warnings of riots and lost elections

By Joseph Hanlon

Events in Zimbabwe last week should worry Frelimo. Since 2009 Zimbabwe has used the US dollar as its main currency but the government is short of dollars. It has not paid civil servants since May, and has tried to block imports from South Africa. Last week saw a widely observed general strike, organised on social media, protesting at the economic crisis - and also against the growing number of police checkpoints where money is demanded. Mozambique is very import dependent and is also running out of US dollars; increasing devaluation of the Metical and import restrictions are causing inflation and there is worry that Mozambique cannot keep borrowing domestically to pay civil servants. Riots in 2008 and 2010 were triggered by similar but much less serious economic squeezes. As in Zimbabwe, police checkpoints and an increased police presence could increase the tension.

Last month former security minister and Frelimo maverick Sergio Vieira warned that Frelimo is at risk of losing the next elections (municipal in 2018 and national in 2019). Frelimo had already received “yellow cards”, in the shape of its declining vote in the 2013 and 2014 municipal and general elections, he told Magazine Independente (14 June). “The Party no longer brings together workers, peasants and intellectuals”, he added. “Right now it is dominated by various kinds of functionaries, business people, and even those who loot the state”. There was “a crowd of new crooks” who had entered Frelimo “and they are persecuting honourable, efficient and hard working people”. (AIM En 15 June) 

Vieira's interview caused waves, because Vieira is the first to say publically what many have been thinking privately. Donors and Frelimo are caught in a growing confrontation, with each expecting the other to blink first. Former President Armando Guebuza and most of the Frelimo leadership seem convinced that donors will back down, because they always have, and thus Frelimo only has to wait. Donors are still holding firm, demanding a new agreement with the IMF and an international forensic audit (which is totally unacceptable to Frelimo). This stand-off looks likely to continue for some months, during which the economy deteriorates. 

Municipal elections are only two years away, and neither donors nor Frelimo have thought about the impact of a significant Frelimo loss. And if Frelimo were facing a loss in national elections in 2019, how would donors, Frelimo leaders, and the security services respond? Similarly, senior officials seem convinced that a show of force can stop economic riots - but if not?   

In MOZAMBIQUE 330News reports & clippings 11 July 2016

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