From Mduduzi Mathuthu in MAPUTO
VICE President Phelekezela Mphoko arrived here yesterday on his first foreign trip in his new role as Vice President of Zimbabwe and is scheduled to join dozens of other leaders to witness the swearing in of Mozambique’s fourth president Filipe Nyusi. VP Mphoko, sworn in last month after a career in the diplomatic service, is accompanied by his Mozambique-born wife, Laurinda, and Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi.
He was met at Maputo International Airport by that country’s ambassador to Harare, Pedro Davane and Embassy officials.
The Vice President and his delegation arrived to a country in mourning as flags flew at half mast following the tragic death of 72 people who drank beer laced, it is alleged with crocodile bile, at a funeral.
Burials were also being held for 10 people killed by floods which have displaced an estimated 20 000 people, according to officials.
The disasters have cast a pall on president Nyusi’s inauguration which will go ahead even as the former defence minister’s rivals continue to claim that his election win was fraudulent.
Opposition Renamo hot-head Afonso Dhlakama refuses to accept Nyusi’s victory with 57 percent of the vote in the October 15, 2014 elections to the former rebel leader’s 37 percent.
The results gave Nyusi’s Frelimo 144 seats in the Assembly, down by 47 seats from the previous election when Armando Guebuza was President. Renamo gained 38 seats for a total of 89 in the 250-member Assembly — but Dhlakama wants his lawmakers to boycott parliament as he resorts to his old tactics of rebellion and defiance.
Frelimo is relaxed about the boycott threats, with Nyusi’s aides pointing out that if the lawmakers miss 30 consecutive sittings that would trigger by-elections in their constituencies.
But privately, Nyusi wants Renamo in parliament to sustain his country’s peaceful momentum after years of armed conflict, most of it blamed on Dhlakama.