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» 01.03.2010 - Mozambique to carry out agric census to gauge poverty
» 16.11.2009 - Prosecute police officers - Amnesty International
» 05.04.2007 - Mozambique celebrates its women heroes
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» 19.01.2005 - Dhlakama; Mozambique's eternal opposition leader

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Society | Politics

Joaquin Chissano, 18 years in Mozambique's presidency

President Joaquim Chissano:
"The natural successor of President Samora"

© Ministère Française des Affaires Étrangères
Misanet / Savana, 18 January
- The powers of Mozambican President Joaquin Chissano are nearing their end. During his 18 years in the presidency, the civil war ended and there came market economy and a new constitution with ample liberties for the individual. Multi-party democracy was introduced. At the same time, some of our proud Mozambican self-esteem was lost and corruption, malaria and AIDS became the new chronic epidemics of the country.

In the 1980s, one of the prominent advisers of Chester Crocker arrived in Maputo with an intriguing question. Frank Cabelli was the name of the civil servant of the Department of State, who wanted to know who would replace Mozambique's founding President Samora Machel in the case of his possible assassination.

In those "difficult times", the Ministries in Maputo however only gave answers in A4 format. Anyway, the question of Mr Cabelli did not deserve great conjectures.

Mr Chissano was the natural successor of President Samora. Summarising the dramatic moments of October of 1986, history therefore caused that it was him, despite other more recent interpretation that are trying to question the pacific way in which Mr Chissano was elected.

The leadership of President Chissano is now approaching his end, as his elected successor and party comrade Armando Emilio Guebuza will take over Mozambique's presidency within short. It is time to sum up Mr Chissano's 18 years in power.

In these years, the civil war was finished in 1992. Already before that, market economy had taken over for Marxism and a new constitution with ample rights, individual liberties and guarantees had been introduced. So was multi-party democracy.

During the Chissano years, however, we Mozambicans also lost much of our pride and self-esteem. At the same time, the country became chronically infested with the ills of corruption, malaria and HIV/AIDS.

It is rude to finish off 18 years of government in just two paragraphs, but there are leaders which history treats as the dust of amnesia. President Chissano - although many still have great expectations in him - runs the risk of repeating the Gorbachov phenomenon. The Soviet leader has an enormous international prestige outside of what was the USSR - only proportional to the number of detractors that he can count on inside his own country.

The international prestige of President Chissano is unquestionable, with his profile of a capable diplomat and his high-profiled image. At home, there are too many "buts", although it is recognised that he had a difficult start-up with the inheritance of President Samora. He had to resort to the old resource of witch-hunting, victimising old nationalists such as Sebastião Mabote and José Moiane.

Then started the romance with the World Bank and the IMF. In a country where the ruling Marxists honoured third-rank ideologists sent from the USSR, East Germany and Cuba to Mozambique, the apprentices of the quartered school of Chicago in the "structural adjustment" happened to make law in Mozambique.

At the most painful moments of the new hyper-capitalism, UNICEF and the Swedish Embassy disbursed some thousand dollars to provide "the left" with some consultants who at least could introduce some humanism into the capitalism imported from Washington. Still today, however, there are Mozambicans publishing theoretical defences of the blessings of the market economy of this type.

President Chissano entered incontestable, but he is experiencing some difficulties in leaving state headquarters. Announcing his decision not to stand for another presidential term, Mr Chissano caused a dramatic central committee meeting of the ruling FRELIMO party 2002, which had to choose his successor. And now, he is under pressure to demonstrate that everything is done and decided, as if President-elect Guebuza will go on implementing these decisions.

We are in Africa, and it does not matter that that it is said that the continent is in transition. In difficult days, many leaders have had to leave power. The properties and the businesses of some relatives of our President can only be a bad omen.

But, at this moment, it is important that President Chissano leaves by the big door. Many Mozambicans want it that way. That is what they expect.

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