Filipe Nyusi: Mozambique's 'worker bee' tipped for presidency

Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, the man likely to become Mozambique's next president, is an engineer who has touted himself as an industrious "worker bee" and pledged to transform one of Africa's poorest nations.

Born in 1959 in the gas-rich far northern Cabo Delgado province near Tanzania, the ruling Frelimo party candidate will preside over one of the continent's most promising economies if he wins Wednesday's elections as expected.

Mozambique is growing about seven percent annually on average on the back of new coal mines and vast gas reserves.

Nyusi, 55, told his final rally that his name, in the local Maconde language, translates as "bee".

"I am the bee that will make honey for all!" he pledged. "And honey is the only product that doesn't go rotten."

The former defence minister is little known to the public, and represents a change of guard in a party headed by former freedom fighters since independence from Portugal in 1975.

His parents were veterans of Mozambique's liberation war, however, and he started schooling at a Frelimo party school set up for children of fighters.

He studied mechanical engineering at Brno University of Technology in then Czechoslovakia and later took post graduate studies in management at Britain's University of Manchester.

He returned home and landed a job at Mozambique's rail and ports company, Caminhos de Ferro de Mocambique (CFM) in 1992, where he rose through the ranks to executive director of the northern region.

He later sat on the board of CFM, during which time he founded a freight handling and stowage company, Somoestiva, which critics condemned as a conflict of interests.

President Armando Guebuza appointed him defence minister in 2008 and he was nominated as Frelimo's presidential candidate in March.

He has been hailed in some quarters for revitalising a moribund army with the purchase of fighter jets and heavy military equipment.

Nyusi, who speaks in a staccato style, has been running his campaign on a "continuity" ticket, promising to carry on the work of his predecessors.

He does not hold any top position in the once Marxist-Leninist party that has ruled since independence.

In probably one of his best known social roles, Nyusi was for nearly 10 years the president of a top division football team, Clube Ferroviario.

He is married and has four children.

If elected, Nyusi will become the country's first president who is not from the southern region.

He squares up against the well known Afonso Dhlakama, who led Renamo rebels in a long civil war that ended in 1992, and Daviz Simango, leader of the Renamo breakaway Mozambique Democratic Movement.

 

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