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Mozambique’s former Prime Minister, Mario Machungo, died of an as yet unspecified illness on Monday morning in Portugal, where he had been receiving medical treatment.
Machungo was born on 1 December 1940 in Maxixe, in the southern province of Inhambane. From his days as a student in the Lisbon Technical University, where he obtained a master’s degree in economics in 1969, he was a clandestine militant of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo).
He worked as an economist in one of the main Portuguese banks, the Banco de Fomento Nacional, first in Lisbon, and then in Maputo (still known as Lourenco Marques in those days).
His Frelimo membership became known after the fall of the colonial-fascist regime in Portugal on 25 April 1974. In the transitional government set up after the independence agreement was negotiated in September that year, Machungo was appointed Minister for Economic Coordination.
In the first government appointed by President Samora Machel in June 1975, Machungo was Minister of Industry. In 1978, he was moved to the Agriculture portfolio, and in 1980 became Minister of Planning.
In 1986, Machungo became independent Mozambique’s first Prime Minister – a post which had not existed in the immediate post-independence governments. Among his early tasks in this position were negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the drafting of the country’s first structural adjustment programme (known as the Economic Recovery Programme, or PRE). He remained prime minister until 1994.
Machungo was elected to the Frelimo Central Committee and to its 11-member Political Bureau at the party’s Third Congress in 1977. He remained on the Political Bureau until 1991.
In 1995, Machungo became the founder and Chairperson of the Board of the International Bank of Mozambique (BIM), which became the largest commercial bank in the country. He remained at the head of the bank until 2015.
Machungo is the second member of Samora Machel’s Political Bureau to die within a week. The first was the veteran nationalist and founder member of Frelimo, Marcelino dos Santos, who died last Tuesday at the age of 90.
Mário Machungo (1940-2020)
Antigo Presidente da República Armando Guebuza lamenta a morte de Mário Machungo e diz que ele foi um dirigente que muito contribuiu para o país num dos momentos críticos que Moçambique atravessava. pic.twitter.com/GheY4Fx4th
— O País Online (@opaisonline) February 17, 2020
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