MAPUTO– Mozambique’s National Elections Commission (CNE) has disqualified Venancio Mondlane, the mayoral candidate for Maputo city of the main opposition party, Renamo, from running in the municipal elections scheduled for Oct 10 after his former party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) invoked an election law provision against party-hopping.

When he ran as the MDM candidate for mayor of Maputo in the 2013 municipal elections, Mondlane slashed the majority of the ruling Frelimo party n the capital from 85 per cent to 58 per cent. He was so popular with the MDM members in Maputo that twice this year, they unanimously picked him as the mayoral candidate for this year.

On the first occasion, in October 2017, Mondlane gladly accepted nomination. Then came a meeting of the MDM National Council in Beira in April, at which Mondlane was not re-elected to the party’s Political Commission which seems to have soured his view of the MDM.

In June, the MDM Maputo membership again selected Mondlane as its mayoral candidate but this time he spurned the nomination, declaring that the announcement is false and it doesn’t come from me”. “It does not have my consent. It is null and void, he said.

In late June he defected from the MDM to Renamo, and resigned his parliamentary seat. A few weeks later, Renamo announced that Mondlane would be its mayoral candidate in Maputo.

The MDM has now taken its revenge, by invoking a clause in the municipal election legislation which states that nobody who resigns from a municipal body will be eligible for the next round of municipal elections. Mondlane was elected to the Maputo Municipal Assembly in 2013, but resigned this position in order to become a Member of Parliament.

When the CNE took a vote on this matter here Monday night, nine members — appointed by Frelimo, the MDM and some from civil society organizations — were in favour of disqualifying Mondlane, and seven members — five appointed by Renamo, plus two from the MDM and civil society — were against. The CNE chairperson, Abdul Carimo, abstained.