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Published: Thursday October 30, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday October 30, 2014 MYT 6:53:39 AM

Moving ahead to resolve the past

Political presence: An MDM supporter holding a poster of Simango during campaigning ahead of the general election in Maputo, Mozambique. - EPA

Political presence: An MDM supporter holding a poster of Simango during campaigning ahead of the general election in Maputo, Mozambique. - EPA

Daviz Simango rises beyond the days when forced public confessions were the norm.

THE other day I was watching al-Jazeera and suddenly Daviz Simango flashed across the screen. I leapt up, as you do, because I have taken a special interest in this particular case.

Simango is something of a maverick in Mozambique where he finished a distant third in the presidential elections held in mid-October.

Unsurprisingly, the elections were won by Filipe Nyusi, the candidate of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo).

Unsurprising because Frelimo has been the ruling party since independence from Portugal in 1975. And despite what you might have been led to believe, it’s really never a good thing for a single party to rule that long, simply because the autonomy of important institutions such as the judiciary, the media and electoral authority become compromised.

So once again Frelimo won, and once again Afonso Dhlakama of the rival Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) finished in second place.

This marks the sixth election in a row, dating back to 1994, that Dhlakama has finished second, by the way.

Despite the predictable results, an observer mission declared the electoral process to be a clean one.

In fact, the exact words of South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane were, “peaceful, transparent, free, fair and credible.” Nice one, then.

But why my interest in Daviz Simango? Simply put, I see him as the son of victims.

Daviz Simango’s father Uria was a former leader of Frelimo who was firstly outmanoeuvred, then dismissed and exiled. Worse was to follow when he returned to Mozambique in the run-up to independence, and was detained by his erstwhile comrades.

He was tortured and forced to broadcast a 20-page confession over national radio, detailing all sorts of wild and imagined plots against the Frelimo regime.

He disappeared from public view soon after, as did his wife Celine a few years later.

I consider Uria Simango’s demise to be an assassination.

Many of my political heroes lost their lives for the cause. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Leon Trotsky, Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, Salvador Allende, Maurice Bishop, Imre Nagy. The list is endless.

Uria Simango doesn’t really fit that bill since he was a conservative Presbyterian minister within a charged political movement containing many Marxists during the Cold War era.

Allied to Frelimo’s founding president Eduardo Monlane, he tried to steer Frelimo on a cautious path after the latter was killed by a bomb planted in a book in Feb 1969.

Simango’s tactics didn’t fit with the mood of his colleagues and he was eventually replaced by Samora Machel, who would go on to be Mozambique’s first post-independence leader.

While Simango was almost certainly courted by the CIA and the like, his public humiliation in the form of a show trial and unexplained execution are a black mark in the nation’s history.

That is why I was excited to see his son Daviz involved in the political process.

Daviz Simango may not have done well nationally but he has been mayor of Beira, Mozambique’s second largest town, since 2003.

Just a teenager when he lost his parents, Simango’s presence in the political arena is a form of rehabilitation for an injustice that can never quite be overturned, but at least can be recognised and maybe one day, healed.

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

Tags / Keywords: Martin Vengadesan

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