Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, was the scene of a march on January 18 organized by the ruling party Frelimo as a way of saluting President Armando Guebuza [PDF] for his deeds and for his administration over the last two mandates. The president, who turned 71 years old on January 20, has been in power since 2004, and his second mandate is expected to come to a close this year.
The march came at a time when political and military instability is rocking the central and southern regions of the country, with confrontations arising between opposition party Renamo‘s armed men and the Mozambican army. The inability of President Guebuza (who is also the president of Frelimo, the only party in power since the country gained its independence in 1975) to solve the conflict has been one of the reasons why he has fallen out of the people's favor. Several media outlets reported that the march aimed at rescuing the president's image.
The location of the march, which gathered around 2,000 people, was the same as another rally on October 31, 2013 that protested against a series of kidnappings and the increasing insecurity in the country. That march brought together more than 20,000 people; it was organized by the Mozambican League for Human Rights and led by the League's President Alice Mabota [pt], whose name is beginning to arise as a possible candidate for this year's general elections.
On January 16, Frelimo's First Secretary in the city of Maputo, Hermenegildo Infante, officially launched the march [pt] and pointed a finger at those who criticize the president:
Eu tenho a certeza de que estas pessoas depois de cessar o seu mandato hão-de falar bem do presidente Guebuza.
I am sure that these same people will praise President Guebuza, once he finishes his mandate.
António Jorge, a resident of the city of Maputo, had a different opinion:
Pelo contrario iremos sentir a falta de sermos roubados pelo governo, que inventa leis e não cumprem. Sr. Infante não nos chama de ignorantes como Sr esta ser, solução leia a carta da renamo em imprensa e nos diremos onde vocês estão a falhar e onde eles estão a falhar e daremos soluções. O Sr. tem filhos porque não manda um dos seus filhos a guerra para o senhor poder sentir o que e perder um filho por causa da ignorância, ambição de um punhado de dirigentes do partido FRELIMO. Fala de segurança que segurança o sr tem nas ruas de maputo ? Os primeiros a roubarem a população são os trabalhadores do estado junto com os seus dirigentes, hoje temos mais medo da policia do que do ladrão.
On the contrary, we will miss being robbed by the government, which creates laws, but does not follow them. Mr. Infante does not call us ignorant, as he is showing himself to be; the solution is to read the letter by Renamo in the press and we will say where you have failed and where they have failed and we will give solutions. Don't you have sons? Why don't you send them to war so that you can feel what it is to lose a son because of ignorance, ambition on the part of a bunch of leaders from FRELIMO. You speak of safety, what safety have we got on the streets in Maputo? The first ones to steal from the population are the state workers together with their leaders; today we are more afraid of the police than of the thief.
Luis Augusto Maraire, in view of a photo published by @Verdade newspaper of the march, commented that Frelimo should be concerned with the political tension spreading throughout the country instead of organizing a march:
a frelimo gasta tempo fazendo marcha pra exaltação da credibilidade de Guebuza, em vez de pensarem uma forma de pararem e pensar uma forma de parar o derramamento de sangue das zonas centro,norte e sul
Frelimo spends time organizing a march to praise the credibility of Guebuza instead of thinking of a way to stop and think of a way to cease the bloodshed in the central, northern and southern areas.
In the same publication, Cesar Eurico Kawawa, a resident of Nacala on the country's northern coast, praised the initiative of the march:
Guebuza Merece muito mais do que esta simples marcha. Guebuza fez muito para Moçambique e pelo povo moçambicano, mesmo que o SUCESSO ALHEIO incomode aos que se recusam a ver os feitos deste Herói da Luta Contra a Pobreza! Bem haja Guebuza!
Guebuza deserves much more than this simple march. Guebuza has done a lot for Mozambique and for the Mozambican people, even if OTHER PEOPLE'S SUCCESS upset those who refuse to see the good deeds of this Hero in the Fight Against Poverty! Well done Guebuza!
Beto Dias Pikles slammed the fact that the Public TV Channel was used to broadcast the march:
Os verdadeiros mocambicanos nao aderiram as idiotices cometidas pela Classe Governante pese embora seja um direito constitucional. Algo que deixa-me estupefato eh o porque duma [televisão] publica onde os impostos de milhoes de cidadaos a faz funcionar vai transmitir em directo uma marcha? Habitualmente minhas sobrinhas tem estado em frente ao ecra logo pela manha pra acompanhar programas que elas gostam e hoje a TV foi mais uma vez partidarizada.
True Mozambicans did not join the idiocies committed by the governing class, although it is a constitutional right. Something that leaves me speechless is why would public [television], which subsists on the taxes of millions of citizens, broadcast such a march live? Usually my nieces stand in front of the screen first thing in the morning to watch the programs they like, and today the TV was once again partisan.
The video below shows supporters in one of the main streets of the city center of Maputo:
Frelimo organiza hoje marcha e cômico em saudação ao Presidente Guebuza em Maputo com lema “Guebuza – os moçambicanos estão contigo”.
— Ulla Andren (@UAndren) 18 janeiro 2014
Frelimo organizes a march today and comical greeting to President Guebuza in Maputo under the motto “Guebuza – Mozambicans are with you”.