Hopes for a lasting peace between longtime rivals Frelimo and Renamo are fading fast as a recent vote for president of the southern nation of Mozambique has been muddied by claims of fraud, unjustified use of state resources, as well as sporadic violence including the murder of an election observer.
“An unlevel playing field was evident throughout the campaign,” a member of the European Mission was reported to say.
“The ruling party dominated the campaign in all provinces and benefited from … incumbency, including more police escorts and media coverage than opponents.”
Opposition parties say that bullying tactics and corruption should invalidate the elections of Oct. 15 that returned Filipe Nyusi, Frelimo’s candidate, to the presidency. But adding gunpowder to the mix is the prospect of a massive $50 billion investment by the American oil giant Exxon Mobil and the French company Total SA.
Exxon is planning to produce 15.2 million tons of liquified natural gas (LNG) per year, while Total SA, developing in the same region, will produce 12.9 million tons.
Mozambique is counting on the projects to boost income in what is the world’s 7th-poorest country by gross domestic product per capita. But available oil billions may prove a dangerous temptation in a country that has earned below grade marks for corruption in numerous ratings.
GlobalSecurity.org wrote: “The scale and scope of corruption in Mozambique are cause for alarm. This corruption is a symptom of democratic and governance weaknesses in the country, and these structural weaknesses amplify a threat that has the potential to undermine Mozambique’s future development progress.
“As a consequence, Mozambique’s nascent democratic government and the significant success of the country’s development efforts are at risk.”
And in December 2018, a four-count indictment was returned by a grand jury in the Eastern District of New York, charging three former senior Mozambican government officials, and three former London-based investment bankers for their roles in a $2 billion fraud and money laundering scheme that victimized investors from the United States and elsewhere.
Even Pope Francis, ending his September visit to Mozambique, took the time to scold political and business leaders who allow themselves to be corrupted by outsiders.
But at a rally in the capital Maputo, Nyusi assured supporters that his new regime would be different and better. He pledged to further develop Mozambique and hasten the implementation of the two-month-old peace deal with Renamo — a rebel group turned opposition party.
“I will work so that we can have a prosperous, equitable and fair Mozambique,” he told the crowd, who were in attendance with vuvuzelas. “In these elections, the Mozambican people won.”