Mozambique elections: Journalist tortured, threatened with death in Quelimane - Deutsche Welle
Samora Machel Junior, also known as Samito. File photo: DW
Samora Machel Jr believes that making oneself heard within the party that governs Mozambique is a way of bringing change to Frelimo. Regardless of what may happen to him, Samito says he has not given up on his ideas.
Samora Machel Jr is seen as the man who defied the status quo in Frelimo, the ruling party in Mozambique. He challenged everyone and everything when, in 2018, he moved, without his party, to run for mayor of Maputo, although that project was aborted in the end. This was understood as the start of long-demanded changes in the party.
We interviewed the son of the first president of independent Mozambique, Samora Machel, who is now facing disciplinary action for his boldness.
DW Africa: Will you continue to wear the Frelimo sweater despite the antagonism that has marked your relationships in recent times?
Samora Machel Jr. (SM): I’m in Frelimo, I’m still Frelimo.
DW Africa: You’re calling for changes within your party. Can you specify of what nature?
SM: I think the party has to be much more open and accept differences of opinion naturally. Not all of us think in the same way and if the posture is of a dynamic party, a party of the people that accompanies the dynamics of society, from there different opinions and ideas will come.
DW Africa: Will you run for the October elections?
SM: I never announced that I would. My objective was to run for the [Maputo] municipality.
DW Africa: When you wanted to run for municipal service, did you have the support of any of your own fellow party members?
SM: Of several – the AJUDEM list is made of the members of the party. And several members of the party at the level of the city supported me.
DW Africa: Your stepmother, Mrs. Graça Machel, at the time publicly expressed support for you. Are you still to this day experiencing tension with your party?
SM: If there is tension, it is on the side of the party. I am very tranquil, and am not under any pressure. I have a good relationship with my mother: we continue to support each other, and she gives me all her support.
DW Africa: Has your decision to run for the local government cost you a high price within Frelimo?
SM: It depends on your point of view of what is a high price. That my name is being spread at national level? To be talked about? I do not consider that a high price. But, for example, if I am expelled, that price may be high. [But] I remain convinced of my ideas.
DW Africa: You have a strong name in the political world in Mozambique and some people believe that this is your greatest asset. Is that really all there is to it, or do you really think that you have something more to offer to Mozambicans?
SM: I should invite you to come to Maputo and walk around the city, and then you would understand if my weight in politics is only because of the name or because of what I stand for and what my ideas are. I think I have a lot more to give.
DW Africa: You have become a kind of symbol of revolution in a Frelimo that is still dominated by dinosaurs and that shows signs of being revitalised. How do you plan to continue to implement changes in your party?
SM: Making my voice heard within the party, criticising what is not right and applauding what is right. At the moment, the [Mozambican] people is made up of 70% young people, and I am part of the young people of this country. So we have to bring a different way of thinking into the party.
DW Africa: Initially it was believed that you could be penalised or expelled from Frelimo by the central committee, which is due to meet in early May, for having run for local elections. But then the disciplinary process was anticipated and this was understood as a strategy to keep you in a “bain Marie” [slow cooking] thus locking up some of your political ambition. Do you understand things this way?
SM: First, my ambition is to work for the people. I come from the people and I have to work for the people and I will never stop working for the people, always being on the side of the people. Now the disciplinary case has had a beginning and should have an outcome and until now there is no outcome. I received the letter of accusation, and had time to respond, and responded within the deadlines. The verification committee of the central committee is examining my defence and I am awaiting an outcome at the moment. I think this can only be at the level of the Central Committee, since I am a member of the Central Committee.
DW Africa: And what do you expect to happen in the central committee in relation to your case?
SM: I think there’s going to be a heated debate. There are several opinions in terms of outcome: on whether I have to be expelled, or stay in the Central Committee, or be sanctioned … I don’t know.
DW Africa: And an attempt to postpone your case to after the central committee can be taken into account?
SM: That depends on the party, it’s not up to me. What I had to do, I did.
DW Africa: What about the party itself, which themes do you think will dominate the central committee? Frelimo is not going through a particularly good time …
SM: I think the party is going to dwell on its inner life and prepare for the upcoming elections. We had this misfortune in the central zone, Cyclone Idai, and we will discuss the impact this weather disaster had on the zone and how the party can improve its performance within the efforts that had been made to recover and get people back to their normal life, we have the issue of instability of the insurgents in the north of the country, we must find a way out that brings peace and calm in that region for development.
DW Africa: What about the hidden debts?
SM: I didn’t think to mention it, I think it’s a matter of our daily bread and it has to be discussed.
DW Africa: And to what extent, in your opinion, does this destabilise the image of Frelimo, now, on the eve of elections?
SM: It’s not good, no party would like to be in such a situation, especially when we are governing. We have to find a way out, so that the country can once again get back on track and to the levels of growth we had a few years ago.
DW Africa: There are certain trends of thought arguing that the Frelimo party is in need of a kind of purification. Do you share this opinion?
SM: It depends on what you understand by purification …
DW Africa: Of excluding or getting rid of, in some way, members who do not dignify the image of the party …
SM: I agree, yes. Anyone who does not dignify the party does not deserve to represent it.
DW Africa: And do you think the number of this kind of people within Frelimo is growing or declining?
SM: I think it’s tending to grow. They want to take advantage of the fact that the party cannot be dissociated from the history of this country, so being a member of a large party like Frelimo is advantageous for those with hidden agendas.
DW Africa: Do the Frelimo your father dreamed of and the Frelimo of today still have something in common?
SM: There is a difference between the Frelimo that we have today and the one we had in 1975 until the 1980s. The difficulties were different, the way we looked at the final objectives that we want to achieve in the country was different. Now we have serious problems, problems of lack of values. We have to bring values back. There are serious problems of corruption, and this was not a common situation in the years you are talking about.Source: Deutsche Welle