By Joseph Hanlon
People named by former President Armando Guebuza have been ousted from two of his key power bases, the security services and the railways. President Filipe Nyusi has replaced them with retired people from the Chissano era who owe nothing to Guebuza - and who are old enough that they have no need to build independent power bases.
Thus it appears that President Filipe Nyusi has finally consolidated his power in government and in the party, ahead of the Frelimo party congress in September. The security service SISE (Servico de Informacoes e Seguranca do Estado) is at the centre of Mozambique's two current crises, the war with Renamo and the $2 billion secret loans. Thus shifts in negotiations with Renamo and in dealing with the secret debt may be expected.
On Monday, retired general Lagos Lidimo was named director general of SISE, replacing Gregorio Leao who was appointed by Guebuza in May 2005. Born in 1950 in Mueda, Cabo Delgado, Lidimo joined the liberation war when he was only 16 years old and became an important guerrilla commander. After independence Lidimo was head of military intelligence during the wars with the Ian Smith regime in then Rhodesia and then apartheid South African. After the 1992 peace accord, President Joaquim Chissano appointed Lidimo as Chief of Staff of the new joint army. He retired in 2008.
Nyusi also appointed a deputy general director for SISE. He is Sergio Nathu Caba, who was formerly an assistant lecturer at the history department in Maputo’s Eduardo Mondlane University, and is the author of a book on “The War in Zambezia Province and the role of Malawi 1975-1988”.
And last week Nyusi named Miguel Matabele to head the state railways CFM. He had worked at CFM for 40 years, and only retired last year. He was Director-General of CFM North when Nyusi returned from Czechoslovakia with his mechanical engineering degree and was sent to CFM North.
Transport and SISE are two of the bases on which Guebuza built his power. As transport minister 1987-94 he developed his core businesses in that sector, and then as president he consolidated SISE as his key military and security force. Lidimo, Nyusi, and Nyusi's chief backer, Alberto Chipande (born 1939, liberation war veteran, and still active politically and in business) are all Makonde. Lidimo has business links to the northern business network which includes Chipande. Former President Chissano's wife, Marcelina, is also Makonde.
Guebuza retains power through people he put into parliament and into middle level positions in the Frelimo party. But the surprisingly critical parliamentary report on debt and these recent changes suggest his power is waning.
Thus, two years after taking office as President, it appears that Nyusi is finally consolidating power by stepping back a generation and looking to the north. It is a move which could gain some support with the Frelimo old guard who have been increasingly outspoken against Guebuza.
Until now, Frelimo has been sharply divided on the two key issues of the day - negotiations with Renamo and dealing with the secret debt - making it difficult to move forward on either. This power shift could bring more unity and a clearer position. As lead negotiator at the Rome peace talks, Guebuza developed a personal antagonism to Renamo head Afonso Dhlakama which has made negotiation very difficult, whereas Nyusi has no personal relationship with Dhlakama and is clearly more open to discussions. But liberation war veterans are now highly influential, and they are expected to push for military action, leading to a strategy of stepped up peace talks and increased military confrontation. Much will depend on Renamo maintaining its ceasefire.
On the secret debt front, the $2 bn loans were to three SISE controlled-companies and SISE will have controlled the release of information to auditors Kroll. Antonio Carlos do Rosario, the senior SISE official who is head of the three companies, told the parliamentary commission that the main purpose of the loans was military and security, and that he put pressure on then Finance Minister Manual Chang to agree secret and illegal loan guarantees. The new leadership will feel less need to protect Guebuza and his immediate circle. This could allow more support for the Kroll audit and a greater willingness to use the illegality of state guarantee and illegitimacy of the loan in negotiations with creditors. jh
Fonte: News reports & clippings, 1 February 2017