Mozambique: Manuel Bissopo Candidate to Lead Renamo

Manuel Bissopo, general secretary of Mozambique’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, on Saturday confirmed that he will be a candidate for president of the party.

Renamo has been without a president since the death from diabetes of Afonso Dhlakama on 3 May. Dhlakama had led the party since 1979.

Renamo intends to elect its new president at a party congress scheduled for mid-January in the central district of Gorongosa.

According to the independent television station STV, Bissopo announced his intention to stand at a press conference in Beira, where he declared that he intended to follow the ideals of Dhlakama.

In his election manifesto, Bissopo said that he intends to preserve peace and democracy, and, if he wins the inner-party election, he plans to make Renamo a more robust and visionary force “oriented towards results”.

Bissopo will face at least two opponents – Ossufo Momade, who is the interim coordinator of the Renamo Political Commission, and Elias Dhlakama, the younger brother of Afonso. Elias Dhlakama is a retired brigadier in the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM): he went on the reserve list earlier this year, precisely so that he could take an active part in politics. He is believed to enjoy the support of the head of the Renamo parliamentary group, Ivone Soares, who is his niece.

Asked about the competition, Bissopo said he was not worried, and that whoever wins will represent the will of the delegates at the Congress.

At the age of 49, Bissopo is relatively young. He was born in 1969, in Morrumbala district, in the central province of Zambezia. He joined Renamo in 1990, two years before the end of the war of destabilisation. He worked with Dhlakama at the Renamo military headquarters in Maringue district, Sofala province, and later in Beira.

In the 2003 local elections, Renamo won control of the Beira municipality, and Bissopo was appointed head of the Beira administrative post of Chiveve, and then municipal councillor for finance.

The split in Renamo that led to the creation of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) meant that Renamo lost control of Beira in 2008. But Bissopo’s rise continued – he was appointed Renamo political delegate for Sofala province in 2009, and general secretary in 2012.

An attempt was made on his life in January 2016. Nobody has ever been arrested in connection with this crime. Bissopo’s bullet wounds were treated in South Africa, and he appeared to make a full recovery.

Conventional wisdom has it that Bissopo is unlikely to become Renamo President because of his poor showing in the 10 October municipal elections, in which he was Renamo candidate for mayor of Beira. He came third, defeated not only by the incumbent mayor, Daviz Simango of the MDM, but also by the candidate of the ruling Frelimo Party, Augusta Maita.

Source: All Africa