Maputo. – The Council of Ministers of Mozambique has decreed a seven-day period of national mourning following the death in Maputo last week of one of the founders of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo), Marcelino dos Santos.
He died at the age of 90 from cardiac arrest.
Dos Santos was proclaimed a National Hero in June 2015, in recognition of the scale and relevance of his achievements in the course of national liberation from colonialism and against racism and other forms of oppression and domination, and for all the services he provided to the country and to the Mozambican state.
The Council of Ministers has decided to hold a wake on Tuesday in Paços do Municipio and a state funeral on Wednesday in Independence Square, in the country’s capital.
During the seven days of national mourning, the flag will be flown at half-mast across the country and its diplomatic representations abroad.
Spokesperson for the extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers, Filimão Suaze, explained that the government’s decisions were based on the breadth of Dos Santos’ achievements, life and work, with emphasis on his sacrifice, courage, audacity and selflessness in resisting foreign occupation.
Marcelino dos Santos died on Tuesday, at the age of 90, at his home in Maputo, his personal doctor announced.
Fittingly, his death was announced by President Filipe Nyusi, speaking in the northern city of Pemba.
“We have lost our icon, Comrade Marcelino dos Santos,” said President Nyusi, promising that more details will be made public later.
“We will organise ourselves, as a government, because he has already been declared a national hero (in 2015).”
Marcelino dos Santos was born on May 20, 1929 in Lumbo, Mozambique Island district, in the northern province of Nampula.
He was deeply involved in nationalist policies from an early age.
He was a student in Lisbon from 1948 to 1951.
Under surveillance from the Portuguese political police, the PIDE, he escaped to France where he worked with many other exiled African nationalists.
Alongside the Angolan Mario Pinto de Andrade, and the leader of the Guinea-Bissau liberation struggle, Amilcar Cabral, he founded the Conference of Nationalist Organisations of the Portuguese Colonies (CONCP) in 1961, and became General Secretary of the organisation.
By then, the first Mozambican nationalist movements were being set up, and Dos Santos became head of the foreign relations department of Udenamo (National Democratic Union of Mozambique).
In 1962, Udenamo merged with two other movements, Manu (Mozambique African National Union) and Unami (National African Union for the Independence of Mozambique) to form Frelimo, under the leadership of Eduardo Mondlane.
It was dos Santos who wrote the first Frelimo statutes.
When Mondlane was assassinated by the Portuguese colonial regime in 1969, dos Santos became one of a three-member presidential triumvirate, alongside Samora Machel and Uria Simango, that briefly led the movement.
Simango soon defected, writing the bitter tract “Gloomy Situation in Frelimo”, and in 1970 Machel was elected President of Frelimo and dos Santos Deputy President.
After independence, in 1975, dos Santos became Minister of Planning and Development in Machel’s first government.
He held several other senior state and party positions, but perhaps the most important of these roles was that of chairperson (speaker) of the Mozambican Parliament, the People’s Assembly, from 1986 to 1994.
He was at the head of what became the most reforming parliament in Mozambican history – which abolished the one party state, replacing it with political pluralism, approved a Constitution of the Republic which included guarantees for freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and even changed the county’s name — from People’s Republic to Republic of Mozambique.
Despite this liberalisation, and despite Frelimo’s embrace of a market economy, dos Santos never wavered in his commitment to socialism. – AIM.