As soon as Pope Francis left, Mozambique resumed its focus on the election campaign. Set for 15 October, it is the sixth time after the civil war when the presidency, national parliament and provincial assemblies will be renewed.
So far, it has been a dark campaign. It is very unlikely it will improve during the last month.
Criticising the Mozambique government implies trouble, especially in a period as tense as the present one.
Dozens of civil society leaders, human rights defenders and journalists have been intimidated, attacked, arbitrarily arrested and abducted because of the work they do.
The manhunt began in October 2108 after the municipal elections. Anyone who had monitored the elections, released the results and contributed in – according to official reports – the defeat of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO, the governing party) was targeted.
Things got even worse in the months that followed.
One example is that of Fátima Mimbire, human rights defender and researcher, who began to receive intimidating messages and death threats through social media on 18 January 2019. What was her “crime”? She had denounced the FRELIMO government of transactions of large sums of money to set up state-owned companies.
Who lashed out at her the most? Alice Thomás, a member of parliament who threatened her, “to be raped by 10 strong and energetic men to teach her a lesson.”
It must be noted that FRELIMO officially dissociated themselves from the threat.