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Mozambique’s Administrative Tribunal (TA) has rejected the appeal from the Mayor of the central city of Quelimane, Manuel de Araujo, against the decision by the central government to sack him from this post.
The government sacked Araujo on 28 August because he had switched his political party allegiance.
He fought and won a by-election for Mayor of Quelimane in 2011 on the ticket of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM). Two years later he was confirmed as mayor, again on the MDM slate, in the nationwide municipal elections of 2013.
Quelimane MDM members wanted Araujo to run for a further term of office in the municipal elections scheduled for 10 October last year.
But they were disappointed when he announced, not only that he had joined the former rebel movement Renamo, but that he would be the Renamo candidate for Mayor of Quelimane. Adding insult to injury, Araujo declared that the MDM “is a party of bandits” – even though he had been a senior member of this party for the best part of a decade.
The Council of Ministers (Cabinet) justified its decision to sack Araujo on the basis of a clause in the 1997 law on administrative supervision of municipalities, which states that “office holders in municipalities shall lose their office if, after the elections, they join a party or list different from the one for which they presented themselves to the electorate”.
The law is quite unambiguous – yet Araujo appealed to the only body that could overturn the government decision, the Council of Ministers.
It was an open and shut case – but the Tribunal behaved with extraordinary lethargy, delaying a decision by almost three months. Its decision, dated 21 December, but only made public this month, ruled in favour of the government, and ordered Araujo to pay the costs of his appeal, set at 10,000 meticais (about 164 US dollars).
The Tribunal said there was no legal basis for an appeal. It rejected Araujo’s protest that the government had not instituted any inquiry or heard his side of the story. An inquiry would only make sense if the facts were in dispute. But they were not: nobody doubted that Araujo had left the MDM and joined Renamo. Indeed, he had announced it himself.
The loss of his mayoral office was “an automatic effect determined by the law”, said the ruling.
But the Tribunal’s delay allowed Araujo to run for mayor, this time as a Renamo candidate, on 10 October. Had his appeal been thrown out before that date, he would have been unable to stand.
As it is, Araujo’s victory has already been proclaimed and validated by the Constitutional Council, the country’s highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law. Since there can be no appeal against Constitutional Council decisions, Araujo has a further five year term of office as Mayor of Quelimane guaranteed.
So he should lose his mayoral office and the salary that goes with it, but only for the last few weeks of the term of office that began in 2014. Some time in February, he will once again be sworn into office as mayor.Source: AIM