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On Sunday, Filipe Nyusi became the only re-elected Mozambican head of state who had no direct participation in the national liberation struggle; a who man, holding no military rank, who made peace-making one of his main goals.
The leader of the Mozambican Liberation Front (Frelimo) was re-elected for a second term in the first round of voting, with 73% of the vote, the National Election Commission announced yesterday in the release of the official October 15 voting results, and his party has a majority of more than two thirds of parliament.
Nyusi came to the Presidency of the Republic with the credentials of an engineer – one who led, as club president, modest Ferroviário de Nampula to the Mozambican national soccer championships, and could boast a fleeting incumbency as Minister of Defence under the presidency of Armando Guebuza.
His government had to deal with a military rebellion by the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) over disagreements over the 2014 election results and the cuts in financial aid to the state budget (OE) following the state’s’ hidden debts’ case.
“I will do everything to make the country peaceful,” he said, often exposing himself to situations seen as “contra natura” in his party, such as when he went to meet the Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama in the Gorongosa woods to talk about peace in 2017.
To prevent the approach being torpedoed by radical members of Frelimo, the trip to Gorongosa was kept secret and only revealed to a few journalists on the day it happened.
At the international level, Nyusi quickly understood that he had to start listening to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order for Mozambique to emerge from the quasi-pariah situation it was enduring in international markets for defaulting on its undeclared debts.
He has always stressed the fact that his government has been able to pay monthly salaries in face of a difficult situation of “sanctions and crisis” imposed by donors and the environment.
Recapitulating the very personal style of the first Mozambican president, Samora Machel, Filipe Nyusi does not shy away from addressing public reprimands to important state figures.
The latest was in August, when he castigated the then president of the National Institute of Statistics (INE), Rosario Fernandes, whose institution found inflated voter registration data for southern Gaza province – which historically supports Frelimo the most.
Indifferent to the opposition of civil society organisations and analysts, Filipe Nyusi accused INE and Rosário Fernandes of wanting to “shine on their own” by publicly presenting data and projections about the Gaza population which refuted the election polls.
Nyusi’s straight-to-the-point character has already been revealed in the authentic oral examinations to which he publicly submits district officials on local governance data during his presidential visits.
A lover and expert in mathematics by virtue of his engineering and teacher training at Pedagogical University, the questions about statistics and numbers that Filipe Nyusi raises often cause state officials real dread.
As a lover of dance, the “dancer”, as he is also called in close circles, is still known for his relative detachment from state protocol.
At the beginning of his term, he sat several times on the floor with children in classrooms without desks to sympathise with students who study in the most basic conditions, and then gave some lessons in mathematics.
He has played football for the government team in recreational matches, and appeared, albeit briefly, in an inaugural school championship match.
Described as a playful, easy-going family man, Filipe Nyusi, 55, was born in Namua, Mueda district, Cabo Delgado province. He is married and the father of four.
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