On 15 October, the ruling party (FRELIMO), in power since independence, won the presidential and legislative elections, clouded by allegations by international observers of vote rigging and manipulation. FRELIMO’s traditional opponent since civil war, RENAMO, nevertheless managed to increase its number of seats in parliament and called for dialogue instead of violence as a reaction to the disputed result. The newly elected President Nyusi gained 56.8% of the vote despite growing dissatisfaction with the ruling party in society at large, and RENAMO’s presidential candidate won 36.8%. The result for RENAMO is quite rewarding notwithstanding their two-year retreat from the political scene and their campaign of small-scale armed attacks in central Mozambique that ended with the September peace agreement. The MDM (Democratic Movement of Mozambique) fared rather poorly except in urban areas.

Impact on country risk

Should FRELIMO refuse talks with RENAMO in the cabinet formation, violent attacks will become more likely. However, RENAMO does not have the capacity to launch a large-scale rebellion. The threat of maintaining violence could deter tourist and investor confidence, thereby obstructing developments in the nascent natural gas industry and associated government revenues. The stakes for holding power are high with natural resource wealth seeping in and huge offshore gas fields coming on stream in the next five years. Henceforth, rifts inside FRELIMO are arising between ‘reformers’ and ‘enrichers’, while RENAMO will push for a greater share of wealth. Mozambique could become a textbook case of the ‘natural resource curse’ if the upcoming economic developments do not take place in a transparent manner and moreover result in improved livelihoods of the population. Indeed, real tests lie ahead for the new president.

Analyst: Louise Van Cauwenbergh, l.vancauwenbergh@credendogroup.com