Major Reshuffle in New Mozambique Cabinet
15 January 2000
By Antonio Gumende
Mozambique's president Joaquim Chissano seems to have considered competence, effectiveness, regional balance, gender and political clout in his appointments for the new-look cabinet which will run the country up to 2004.
In his first address to the nation shortly after the announcement of the elections results in December, the recently re-elected Chissano pledged that he would form a government of "competent and humble" people. The new line-up indicates that there is mixture of competence and political clout. As to the humble qualities of the members of the new cabinet, only time will tell.
The president, who is current chairman of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had also pledged that the formation of the new cabinet would be based on the philosophy of "renewal and continuity". The faces in the new government which took office on 18 January show that the cabinet is short on continuity and long on renewal. The president literally cleaned the house.
Despite the fact that the number of portfolios has been increased from 18 to 22 with the creation of the ministries of culture, higher education, science and technology, tourism and fisheries, only eight former ministers and the prime minister made it into the new cabinet. The others either asked the president to relieve them of their duties or became casualties of the "renewal" process and have been replaced either by their own deputies or by newcomers.
The president retained Prime Minister Pascoal Mocumbi, a close friend and confidante, quashing widespread speculation that the premier would be replaced by Armando Guebuza, who heads the Frelimo bench in Parliament; by foreign minister Leonardo Simão, who is among the eight ministers retained in cabinet; or by outgoing economic affairs minister in the president's office, Eneas Comiche.
Interior and Security Affairs Minister, Almeirinho Manhenje; Parliamentary and Diplomatic Affairs Minister in the President's Office, Francisco Madeira; and Justice Minister, José Abudo, were the ministers who retained their portfolios. Whilst there was little controversy over the re-appointment of Madeira and Manhenje, the same cannot be said in the case of minister Abudo.
The justice ministry is one of the most criticised institutions in Mozambique due to a poor justice delivery system. Analysts say that the retention of Abudo in the cabinet was the price that Chissano and the ruling party had to pay in order to appease the Muslim lobby.
The Muslims are the second largest religious group in Mozambique and have extensive contacts and influence in the business community. Abudo has also been instrumental in the establishment of links between Mozambique and the oil-rich Arab countries of the Middle East. He is believed to be at the forefront of the lobby for the creation of an Islamic university in Mozambique.
Roberto White, the minister of public works and housing, is another notable survivor in the cabinet.
Those who were shuffled were former planning and finance minister, Tomás Salomão, who was moved to transport and communications.
One of the criticisms levelled against Salomão is that he is a technocrat who regarded the policies of the IMF, the World Bank and the donor community as the gospel of development without questioning the suitability of these policies to the Mozambican conditions. Soft spoken John Kachamila, who built a reputation for being "Mr Clean" in the previous cabinet, was moved from natural resources and energy to strengthen the ministry of environmental co-ordination.
There were also a number of promotions from within. The most notable is that of Luísa Diogo, the former deputy minister of planning and finance who has taken over the portfolio. Her promotion is an important development in more than one way: she is highly regarded in business and donor circles, she is from Tete province in central Mozambique and last but not least, she is a woman. Her predecessor, Salomão is from the southern province of Inhambane.
Poet Hélder Muteia, widely regarded as a rising star, rose from deputy to full minister in agriculture and rural development. An agronomist, Muteia's fortunes seem to emanate more from his political stature than from his technical background. Chissano moved him from parliament two years ago and appointed him deputy minister in the then ministry of agriculture and fisheries to replace José Pacheco who was appointed governor of the northern Cabo Delgado province. He was a key figure during the election campaign in his home province of Zambézia, in northern Mozambique.
The promotion of Castigo Langa from deputy to full minister of mineral resources and energy is also notable. An electrical engineer, Langa is regarded as highly imaginative and hardworking. His ministry is in charge of supervising the whole area of electricity generation, the natural gas production projects and oil exploration activities currently being undertaken in different parts of the country by different petroleum multinationals.
There were some surprises in the mixed bag of newcomers. Tourism Minister Fernando Sumbane Jr, is a well known figure in business circles in Mozambique and in the region. Until his appointment, Sumbane was heading the Investment Promotion Centre (CPI) and was widely tipped to replace Oldemiro Baloi in the ministry of commerce and industry.
It is understood that Baloi suggested his name for the post but the president appointed Carlos Morgado, former deputy general manager of LAM, the national airline, instead. Morgado was a Frelimo representative in the National Electoral Commission (CNE) that ran the 1999 elections. He is regarded as a highly organised and balanced individual and his experience in the business sector will be useful in his new job.
The demise of the minister of culture, youth and sports, Mateus Katupa, came as no surprise. In fact, what was surprising is that Katupa managed to hang on to the job for such a long time despite the fact that he had already fallen out of favour with Frelimo's top echelons. He was replaced by his deputy Joel Libombo, who took over the youth and sports portfolio, while culture was turned into a separate ministry headed by former director of the little-known national art museum, Miguel Mkaima. Libombo is from Maputo city while Mkaima is from Cabo Delgado province.
Francisco Songane, one of the country's top gynaecologists and provincial health director in Sofala province, took over the health portfolio from Aurélio Zilhão. His appointment immediately provoked an outcry in Sofala due to the good reputation that Songane had acquired in the province.
Mario Sevene, the new labour minister is one of the surprises in the list of newcomers. A deputy in the previous legislature, Sevene was voted out during the primaries in his home province of Inhambane. He was director of the recently privatised Cegraf printing house and his management style can hardly be described as effective. Alcido Nguenha, the new education minister, is known better for his role as spokesperson of the Assembly of the Republic in the previous legislature. The same goes for the minister of women's affairs and social welfare, Virgília Matabele, who seems to have made a name for herself as deputy head of Frelimo's bench in parliament.
The appointment of economist and university lecturer José Chichava as minister for state administration also came as a surprise because few people expected incumbent Alfredo Gamito to be replaced. The emergence of former deputy vice-chancellor of Eduardo Mondlane University, Lidia Brito, as minister of higher education, science and technology was also unexpected.
There is also something ironic in this last appointment: it means that Britos' former boss, Brazão Mazula, who chaired the first National Electoral Commission in 1994 before being appointed to the university position, will now have to make appointments to see his former subordinate to discuss higher education. In this sense, perhaps Mazula is amongst those would have wished for more continuity and less renewal in the new cabinet. (SARDC)