Mozambique: Nyusi Announces New Justice Minister

Maputo – Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Friday sacked the Minister of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Matters, Abdurremane Lino de Almeida., and immediately appointed as his successor prominent lawyer Isaque Chande.

As usual in presidential dispatches, no reason was given for relieving Lino de Almeida of his duties.

Chande has been active in the Mozambican Bar Association for many years, rising to become chairperson of its Jurisdictional Council. The outgoing chair of the Bar Association, Tomas Timbana, remarked on his Facebook page that Chande “is a member of my team, and so I feel proud that he has been chosen to become a Minister”.

Describing Chande as “calm, serene, thoughtful, discreet and with a great deal of common sense”, Timbana said Nyusi had made an “excellent choice” by appointing him Justice Minister.

One of the questions Chande will inevitably face is the demand for recognition by LAMBDA, the country’s only organization representing Mozambican gay and lesbian citizens. For the past eight years LAMBDA has been demanding to be registered legally as an association.

But, although homosexuality is not illegal in Mozambique, and any lingering ambiguity about the matter was removed in the amended Penal Code that took effect in 2014, successive justice ministers have refused to formally recognise LAMBDA.

Lino de Almeida took a step backwards – whereas the two previous ministers, Esperanca Machavela and Benvinda Levy, had met with LAMBDA delegations. Almeida refused even to give LAMBDA an audience.

In a letter to Almeida last December. LAMBDA reminded him of Nyusi’s inaugural speech from January 2015, when the new President had declared “there are no people who are more or less Mozambican. The multi-coloured flag which covers all Mozambicans represents precisely this unity in diversity”.

But rather than meet with LAMBDA, much less extend recognition to the Association, Almeida publicly declared that LAMBDA was not a priority for the government, and they should be thankful they were not in Zimbabwe where homosexuals “are exterminated and banned” (which is simply untrue, despite President Robert Mugabe’s hostility to gays).

LAMBDA reminded Almeida that all Mozambicans enjoy equal rights under the constitution – including freedom of association. Discriminating against gay Mozambicans was a violation of the constitution.

It remains to be seen whether Chande will reverse Almeida’s position on this issue.

Nyusi also appointed Maria Lucas as Deputy Minister of Economy and Finance, relieving her of her responsibilities as Chairperson of the National Statistics Institute (INE). Thus Lucas returns to the Finance Ministry after spending only six months at the helm of the INE. She was Permanent Secretary at the Finance Ministry prior to her appointment as head of the INE on September 2015.

Source: All Africa