A third force has emerged in Mozambican politics, the MDM party that is causing powerful ripples, especially in urban areas and the regions until now marginalised by the ruling FRELIMO party. RENAMO, the main opposition party, is dying. MDM is likely to put a strong showing in October's presidential election because of growing disaffection for the ruling party. But MDM is unlikely to trounce the still well-entrenched FRELIMO
In Mozambique’s latest municipal elections the governing party FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique) appears to have obliterated any opposition when it managed to win 49 out of 53 contested municipalities. RENAMO (Resistência Nacional de Moçambique) has virtually ceased to exist as a representative political party, due to its boycotting of Mozambique’s fourth municipal elections on 20 November 2013. Closer scrutiny, however, shows a very different picture, that is, the rapid growth and nationwide birth of the MDM (Movimento Democrático de Moçambique) that has more than filled the space left by RENAMO, a development that might signify a complete diversion away from ex-liberation movement politics.
Meanwhile, in terms of controlling strategic urban municipalities, the 20 November 2013 official electoral results confined FRELIMO to the capital city of Maputo (and the industrial municipality of Matola). The second, third and fourth of Mozambique’s most important cities all fell under the control of MDM. In Beira MDM leader, Simango, gained 70,44% of the vote in the mayoral race, while MDM won 67,58% of the vote for the municipal parliament; in Quelimane, MDM’s Manuel de Araújo won the mayoral vote with 68,21% with MDM securing 65,59% of the parliamentary vote; in Nampula MDM candidate Mamudo Amurane, obtained 54% of the mayoral vote while MDM 52% of the parliamentary vote. The official results also revealed that the capital city of Maputo was under serious threat of being taken over by MDM. While FRELIMO obtained 56,42% of the mayoral vote, MDM obtained 40,53%. Out of 64 of Maputo’s parliamentary seats FRELIMO obtained 37 and MDM 27. (CNE 2013) 
Four factors appear to have fundamentally influenced the rapid expansion of MDM: First, the ongoing political suicide of RENAMO exacerbated by the ruling FRELIMO’s more radical wing stating its unwillingness to provide any political concessions. Second, the dichotomy between power politics and development politics that distinguishes the nature and approach of the three Mozambican major contestants FRELIMO, RENAMO and MDM. Third, the emergence of a new politically active urban population pushing for a fresh political dispensation in the country and, finally, an apparent retaliation by the people of Beira, Quelimane and Nampula against political and economic marginalization.
THE BIRTH OF THE MDM
MDM was formed in March 2009 as a splinter movement comprising ex-RENAMO members and supporters under the leadership of 49 year old Daviz Mbepo Simango,  the mayor of Beira, Mozambique’s second largest city.
Simango began his political career in 1990 as a member of the Partido de Convenção Nacional (PCN). Although being a member since the inception of the party in 1990, he has never been politically active. In 2003 he joined RENAMO.  In 1998 RENAMO boycotted the first municipal elections giving FRELIMO the chance to win all the municipalities under dispute. In the following municipal elections in 2003 RENAMO took the opportunity to test, for the first time, the extent of its popular support at local level. With Daviz Simango as its candidate for Beira, RENAMO won the city of Beira and both the municipal and mayoral elections in Angoche, Ilha de Moçambique and Nacala. It also won the mayoral elections in Marromeu. In this election Simango obtained 53,43% of the vote while Djalma Lourenço, the FRELIMO candidate, obtained 42,23%. The results of the municipal parliamentary elections for Beira gave RENAMO 54,54% of the vote and FRELIMO 41,25%. Other smaller parties and candidates obtained 1% - 3% of the vote (Chichava 2007). 
In the 2008 municipal election, Dhlakama, pressurised by the increasing popularity of Simango and misled by his party’s previous political results in the City of Beira (and Sofala province in general), decided at the last minute to replace Simango and appointed RENAMO’s member of parliament, Manuel Pereira, as the party’s candidate.  As a result, Simango decided to run as an independent, supported by a significant group of locals named Grupo de Reflexão e Mudança (GRM).  The outcome could not have been more devastating for RENAMO. As mayoral candidate, Simango overwhelmingly defeated both Pereira (RENAMO) and Lourenço Bulha (FRELIMO). The final official results indicated 61,6% for Simango, 33,7% for Bulha and only 2,7% for Pereira. Because GMR did not stand in the parliamentary elections, the results were 19 seats of the 45 under dispute to FRELIMO and 17 to RENAMO. The remaining 8 seats were occupied by three smaller parties. These results marked the end of RENAMO’s influence in Beira and in all smaller municipalities it had won in 2003. Faced with this drubbing, Dhlakama immediately dismissed Simango from RENAMO. In March 2009, Simango, together with a few other RENAMO detractors and ex-supporters, announced the creation of MDM as a political movement and his presidential candidacy.
Before the first anniversary of MDM, Simango and his new political party decided to extend their political aspirations beyond Beira to national government. Simango and MDM stood in the national elections (presidential and parliamentary) in 2009. With only three presidential candidates, the election was again won by Armando Guebuza (FRELIMO’s candidate since 2004) with 71,01 % of the vote, followed by Afonso Dhlakama with 16,41 % and finally Simango with 8,59%. The parliamentary vote put MDM in third place with 3,93%, RENAMO second with 17,69% and finally the governing party, FRELIMO, first with 74,66%. The other smaller parties managed to secure less than 1% of the vote (CNE 2012).  These results gave FRELIMO 191 seats in the national parliament compared to 49 for RENAMO and 8 for MDM.
In a historically bipolar political environment, at least four factors contributed to this quick rise of MDM as a new political contender (at least in the urban municipalities).
RENAMO’S POLITICAL SUICIDE
Since the overwhelming defeat in the 2004 national elections RENAMO has progressively been losing the power struggle through the ballot box. The 2004 electoral results represented the most dramatic defeat for RENAMO since the beginning of the multi-party democracy in Mozambique in 1992. On the other hand, the results boosted FRELIMO’s confidence as shown by the immediate end to the traditional type of dialogue FRELIMO had been having with RENAMO on political issues since 1992 (Guilengue 2013). In 2009, this was exacerbated by yet another sharp loss for RENAMO in municipal elections coupled with the appearance of a third contender (MDM) threatening to usurp its position as the second major political force in the country.
RENAMO’s response to these factors couldn’t have been more strategically disastrous. Dhlakama asked his party’s elected candidates not to take their 49 seats in the national parliament but his request was completely ignored. Then, in an attempt to force the government to return to the traditional dialogue, that could potentially have meant a continuation of his and RENAMO’s political significance in the country’s political domain, Dhlakama retreated to Nampula. His withdrawal of two years and nine months (January 2010 to October 2012) also indicated Dhlakama’s abandonment of the political engagement in the capital city of Maputo (the centre of political debate in Mozambique). Having realised that this strategy had not produced the desired impact on FRELIMO leadership, RENAMO threatened to disrupt elections and subsequently kept its promise by not taking part in the fourth municipal elections, thereby furthering Dhlakama and the party’s political confinement. This strategy is likely to be repeated in the next national elections scheduled for October 2014 if certain conditions demanded are not met.  In October 2012 Dhlakama retreated to RENAMO’s military headquarters in Satungira (Gorongosa District) with some of his supporters from where he is conducting guerrilla attacks against government and civilians. Despite substantial widespread pressure not to retaliate with force, the Guebuza-led government counterattacked, which led to Dhlakama fleeing to an unknown location further entrenching the party’s political confinement.
Apparently Guebuza belongs to the more radical wing of FRELIMO that promotes the military defeat of RENAMO guerrillas and complete isolation of opposition parties.  In light of the latest municipal election results that reflected a high level of discontent with the governing party, FRELIMO is likely to prolong this political instability until the 2014 general elections in order to increase its chances of retaining power as it competes against a perceived less threatening challenger, the MDM.
POWER POLITICS VERSUS DEVELOPMENT POLITICS
FRELIMO and RENAMO are long-standing enemies. FRELIMO is the liberation movement that led the country to independence from colonial rule by Portugal following 10 years of armed struggle (1964 - 1974) to become the ruling party. It ruled the country using a Marxist political approach from 1975 - 1989. The formation of RENAMO started in 1976 as a resistance guerrilla movement without political ambitions but later assumed the role of a democratic and anti-communist force. It progressively encountered a political, social, cultural and economic terrain favourable to its expansion and attracted considerable popular support. The civil war ended with the signing of the General Peace Agreement (GPA) of 1992 that transformed ex-war enemies into political enemies.
After 38 years of independence FRELIMO’s attitude and political discourse still reflect a rhetoric that is based on a narrow interpretation of the liberation struggle, delegitimising any opposition and thus reiterating its right to retain unlimited and eternal power. Alternatively, RENAMO’s rhetoric is based on the struggle against communism and for democracy. RENAMO claims to have brought democracy and a free market economy to Mozambique and thus demands the right to enjoy all the resultant political and socio-economic benefits. Because of the inseparable link between political power and economic gain, RENAMO must retain a certain amount of political clout even if by military means.
Despite being a splinter RENAMO party, MDM was formed after independence, under a multiparty democracy with a relatively young leader (and supporters) at a time when the country’s main agenda was neither the struggle for independence nor the establishment of a multiparty democratic system. Faced with widespread poverty, economic development has become the biggest national aspiration.  MDM’s attitude and political discourse clearly distinguishes it from the two old enemies. While FRELIMO and RENAMO constantly exchange hostile political accusations, MDM’s remains neutral and is based on development-driven (alternative) discourse. Whereas Guebuza has been increasingly delegitimising RENAMO’s political relevance, Dhlakama has never accepted and has avoided participation in the country’s political institutions (BTI 2012).  By contrast, Simango has always recognised both Chissano and Guebuza as heads of state (their authority and leadership) as well as afforded them the necessary reverence when they visited Beira. As for the current political instability, MDM maintains that both parties should resume dialogue so that the country can focus on the much needed development agenda.  Unlike FRELIMO and RENAMO parliamentarians, the public and parliamentary interventions by MDM’s members are always impartial. Briefly referred to below, the MDM’s discourse and practice of development politics are underscored by its local governance successes in Beira and Quelimane.
A POLITICALLY ACTIVE URBAN POPULATION
The results of the latest municipal elections reflect the current attitude of the urban population to the governing party and send a resounding message of discontentment. Apart from reinforcing its control over Beira and expansion into Quelimane, for the first time in history, MDM captured the important city of Nampula. Interestingly, the results also reveal that the party secured the highest number of votes ever recorded by an opposition party in urban areas. The gap between FRELIMO and MDM votes in other important urban municipalities including Maputo is insignificant.
This expression of dissatisfaction by the urban populace is not a recent phenomenon. Despite good macroeconomic performance and economic growth valued at around 7% since 1992, the impact of the efforts towards poverty reduction has been negligible. The percentage of Mozambique’s population below the poverty line even rose from 54.3% in 2003 to 54.7% in 2010. In the first quarter of 2010, the national currency (metical) was devalued by 30% against the US dollar and overall inflation rocketed to 17% in September 2010 while the cost of food items went up by 25%. Figures from 2010 also clearly indicate an increase in urban poverty (inequality) and population growth.  (BTI 2012)
More important than the statistics was the response from the population. Major riots broke out in Maputo and Matola (with minor ones in Gaza and Manica) with 13 deaths recorded on 1 and 2 September 2010. These riots followed the earlier 5 February 2008 riot on fuel and consequently transport prices (BTI 2012). In the past 5 years, Mozambique (particularly Maputo) has become a centre of threats of riots, effective historical riots and general demonstrations. The Forum of Ex-combatants and the Ex-secret Operatives (SISE) are now constantly on the streets demanding higher pensions. For the first time in history, doctors and health professionals organised a 26-day countrywide strike in 2013 for better salaries and working conditions that almost paralysed public health services. Continuous threats of more riots and strikes have failed to materialise. Some due to the heavy presence of police patrols in the streets on the planned days and others due to the governing party’s control over trade unions. 
On 31 October 2013 (exactly 20 days before the latest municipal elections took place), for the first time since independence, Mozambicans demonstrated against their own government. The demonstrations took place in the urban centres of Maputo, Matola, Beira and Quelimane. They were triggered by the threatening spectre of war generated by the government counterattack on RENAMO’s headquarters, the spread of RENAMO’s guerrilla attacks to Northern Mozambique (Nampula) as well as a sense of insecurity caused by an increasing number of kidnappings. Since the beginning of kidnappings in 2011, 50 people had fallen victim to this criminal activity (apparently with the involvement of some police operatives) without an effective response from government (DW 2013). 
LOCAL RETALIATION AGAINST POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC MARGINALIZATION
For different but also similar reasons, the inhabitants of Sofala, Zambézia and Nampula (non-Southern Mozambicans) have always regarded themselves as being both political and economic marginalised by FRELIMO.
The recent history of the country, as presented in school curriculums, seems to be framed in propaganda that ignores the role locals from these provinces played in the country’s recent history. In an attempt to explain the reasons behind Sofala’s hostility towards FRELIMO, Chichava (2010) refers to the history of Mozambique and FRELIMO. It was in this region, formerly the province of Manica and Sofala, where some of the most important forms of contestation against the Portuguese colonial regime took place (1932 and 1953 respectively). Surprisingly, the importance of these historical events has systematically been ignored (Chichava 2010).
In addition to underplaying the historic contribution of the non-Southern to the struggle for independence, today people from this region (mainly from central Mozambique) are seemingly being negatively depicted and labelled as simply confrontational to any form of political leadership. 
While there is limited literature about their claims of marginalisation (Chichava 2007; Chichava 2010; Nkomo 2004), the political and economic argument appears to be based on analysis of personal communication and interpretation of poverty data timelines (see below).
Sofala is a controversial region. The territory is home to the most acknowledged and vibrant FRELIMO contenders. It is home to the late FRELIMO vice-president Uria Simango and others like Silvério Nungo, Mariano Matsinhe and Samuel Dhlakama who were later accused of Eduardo Mondlane’s assassination.  Sofala is also home to most of the RENAMO guerrilla’s top leaders and commanders (André Matsangaiça - born in Manica and Afonso Dhlakama - born in Sofala). After independence, Samora Machel accused the region of giving birth to a number of political parties that antagonised the regime (Chichava 2010). Seemingly it is because of this history that FRELIMO’s relationship with Sofala has always been bitter.
After the GPA, the majority of Sofala residents voted for RENAMO, the party that up until 2004 had always dominated in Sofala.  This momentum was halted in 2009 with the advent of MDM.  According to Chichava (2010, p. 7), ‘There is no doubt that the murder of Uria Simango from Sofala, an emblematic figure of the resistance to Portuguese colonialism, left much resentment and anger amongst the local population in relation to FRELIMO’.
In a similar attempt in relation to the province of Zambézia, Chichava (2007) concludes that the Zambezian vote in favor of RENAMO is a reaction to the harassment and marginalization of the locals by FRELIMO. This goes back to way before the 19th century, when local formations in today’s Zambézia province consisted of ‘Zambezi Prazos’ which were political (and economic) systems formed by early Portuguese settlers. The mixture of local people with Europeans and Indians resulted in a unique society in that region of Mozambique. Consequently, even after having been subjugated by Portugal, their descendants seem to have been generally less hostile towards the Portuguese than those in other regions because of their autonomist notion of Mozambique. Similarly, they seem to have maintained good relations with the ‘coloniser’ not only before but also after Independence. Hence, post-independence, FRELIMO adopted a strategy of hostility and ‘decolonisation’ towards the Zambézian inhabitants. This strategy further radicalized during the civil war when FRELIMO wrestled control away from RENAMO in the area. 
In the words of Rude Matinada, aged 38, who was born and lived in Quelimane (the capital of Zambézia) ever since:
‘We have never been linked to FRELIMO. We used to have a good relationship with the Portuguese. After independence FRELIMO’s entrance here was a big shock. FRELIMO’s arrival here was not peaceful. We felt like our friends were being taken away. This resulted in the population revolting against FRELIMO. As a result, in Zambézia there is no investment, factories have closed down and the people emigrated. This created further resentment towards the government. For me the economic stagnation of Zambézia is a deliberated punitive measure by government against us for never supporting them. But with Araújo, Quelimane has changed. After only one and half years as mayor we have seen lots of changes. Now roads that I had never imagined have been repaired.’ 
FRELIMO’s hostile and radical approach to Sofala and Zambézia may also have taken the form of economic repression. Interestingly, recent official government data on poverty-based consumption indicators (2002/3 – 2008/9) shows a very high level of poverty in both provinces as opposed to the other regions of the country (MPD 2010). 
The urban municipalities of Beira, Quelimane (to some extent Nampula) have long been considered ‘forgotten cities’ under FRELIMO municipal administration. This sentiment is expressed by the locals when trying to explain the economic stagnation of their cities. There is no doubt in their minds that there is deliberate and premeditated ‘economic punishment’ for their continued lack of support for the party. Economic punishment in this context refers to deliberate efforts by central government not to invest or discouraging interested parties to invest in a certain area because of the residents’ political choices. The visible result of this is the absence of development in terms of infrastructure, high unemployment and, at a personal level, despair.
For Marta Zacarias Samo, female, aged 52 and Chota (Beira) resident since 1978:
‘We are neglected for always supporting the opposition parties. There are no jobs, employment, investment or any type of central government support. Everyone here agrees that we are being marginalised because we support the opposition parties. During the political campaigns, they (FRELIMO) say: we cannot buy clothes for other people’s child and leave ours with no cloths. They also say that this situation will only change if we support them and not the opposition because funds come from the central government. But with the MDM the situation has improved. In my neighbourhood there is now a road but we still need transport to town. The city is better now. It looks different. 
Meanwhile following the recent historical victory by the MDM in Nampula there is a mixture of both economic exclusion and political arrogance by the FRELIMO top leadership towards the locals.  For Daniel A. Mário, male, aged 45, who was born and has been living in Nampula ever since:
‘Although there are many natural resources in the province of Nampula we do not feel the advantage of the exploitation of these resources. I think there is too much arrogance by the FRELIMO leadership because the candidate was challenged soon enough. But they kept on with him. The current FRELIMO is not known or is acting badly from the point of view of the entire political line. There is no inclusion. The citizens of the city of Nampula feel excluded from national political and economic process. The people are well informed about what is happening in this country and internationally mainly on the evolution of the economy. I believe that even FRELIMO members and supporters in Nampula voted for MDM. People want and believe in change. On the other hand people want to try new leaders. I think even if RENAMO had participated people would have still voted MDM. The civil society in Nampula is now mature.’ 
It is against the backdrop of these unresolved historical, political and socio-economic differences that the population of Sofala, Zambézia and Nampula went to the ballot box on 20 November 2013.
There is little doubt that the rapid growth of MDM is a major indicator of the imminent end of bipolarisation within Mozambique’s political environment. This does not ignore the extent to which the vacuum created by the absence of the old alternative (RENAMO) gave its supporters no other option but to vote for MDM. For the people of Beira and Quelimane and, to a certain degree, Nampula, it was important to send a message to FRELIMO that its strategy based on marginalisation and political arrogance not only doesn’t work but also creates local resentment with devastating electoral consequences. In the final account, however, the rise of MDM is the result of the emergence of a new political and economic dispensation to which it seems both the political liberators (FRELIMO) and anti-communism activists (RENAMO) have so far been unable to adequately respond.
* Fredson Guilengue works with Rosa Luxembourg Foundation Southern Africa.
1 .In Matola, FRELIMO captured 54,05% of the parliamentary votes and MDM obtained 43,77%. This gave FRELIMO 29 seats and MDM 24. FRELIMO’s candidate Calisto Cossa secured the mayorship with 56,53% of the votes. Comissão Nacional de Eleições (2013). Eleições Autáquicas 2013. Eleição do Presidente do Conselho Municipal. Available at: http://www.stae.org.mz/ Retrieved on 8 December 2013. (Due to significant abnormalities the Constitutional Court of Mozambique invalidated the electoral results of the urban municipality of Gurué (Zambézia province) which had given victory to FRELIMO. The elections are to be repeated on 8 February 2014.)
2 Daviz Simango is the son of the late Uria Simango. Uria Simango was FRELIMO’s vice president (1962 - 1969) terminated due to an internal power dispute after the death of Eduardo Mondlane. For details on Uria Simango assassination and of other FRELIMO’s dissidents see Nkomo (2004). Nkomo, B. Uria Simango: Um homem, uma causa. Maputo: Edições Novafrica, 2004.
3 L. Simango, personal communication, January 24, 2014
4 .Chichava, S. 2007, Uma província “Rebelde”. O significado do voto Zambeziano a favor da RENAMO. Maputo, IESE (Conferência Inaugural do IESE).In the 2004 national elections, Armando Guebuza (the new FRELIMO candidate) won 63.7% of the votes. This represented twice the number of Afonso Dhlakama’s votes (31.7%). FRELIMO won 62% of the votes; RENAMO-EU 29.7% and 18 minority parties shared the remaining 8%. Thus, FRELIMO took 160 seats and RENAMO-UE, 90 seats.
5 .Until 2004, all the previous electoral results in Sofala have been highly favourable for RENAMO at national level (76, 8% in 1994; 71% in 1999 and finally 65% in 2004). Chichava,S. (2010). Chichava, S. 2010. Movimento Democrático de Moçambique: uma nova força política na democracia moçambicana?Maputo, IESE, caderno nr.02.
6.Grupo de Reflexão e Mudança (GRM) is an independent political association founded in 1998 by Francisco Masquil former governor of Sofala province after he deserted FRELIMO.
7. Comissão Nacional de Eleições (CNE 2012). Edital. Apuramento Geral/Presidente da República. Available at: http://www.stae.org.mz/ Retrieved on the 25th of November 2013.
 RENAMO’s guarantees include: Amendments to the electoral legislation; issues relating to national defence and security; non-partisanship of the State and economic issues.
9. After taking office in 2004, Armando Guebuza only met Dhlakama twice in Nampula (in December 2011 and April 2012) after numerous and repeated requests from the former. After the meeting Dhlakama told the media that “As you all know, it has been very difficult to meet with my brother Guebuza. He first defended that there was no need for him to meet with an opposition leader (…). This is the second meeting (…). We exchanged contact details (…). I can phone him at any time (…). We agreed that small issues can be discussed over the phone as it used to happen with my brother Chissano”. O País (2012, April 16). www.opais.co.mz Retrieved on the 27 November 2013
10. The most recent official poverty data reveals that 11.8 million Mozambican (out of 21.5 million) live below the poverty line (MPD 2010). Source: Ministério da Planificação e Desenvolvimento (MPD). Pobreza e bem-estar em Moçambique: terceira avaliação nacional. Maputo,2010. Mozambique’s Human Development Index (HDI) value for 2012 is 0.327—in the low human development category—positioning the country at 185 out of 187 countries and territories. Between 1980 and 2012, Mozambique’s HDI value increased from 0.217 to 0.327, an increase of 51 percent or average annual increase of about 1.3 percent. At the birth of the MDM in 2009, Mozambique’s HDI valued for 0.202. Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The rise of the south: human progress in a diverse world. Refer to explanatory note on 2013 composite indices. http://tinyurl.com/pr4vjhhretrieved on the 27 November 2013.
11. Bertelsmann Stiftung, BTI 2012 – Mozambique country report. Gutersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2012. Dhlakama has never taken his seat in the Counsel of the State legally established by the 2004 Constitution as a consultation forum for the head of state. “Dhlakama is doing a political protest which is well-known by the President Guebuza. Before there is electoral justice he will never take place in these organs” – António Muchanga, state adviser, elected by RENAMO. Source: Mapote, W. (2013 July 29). Moçambique: Conselho de estado analisa situação política. VOA.http://tinyurl.com/nlttrcv Retrieved on the 27 November 2013.
12. Bancada parlamentar. Discurso do chefe da bancada parlamentar do MDM por ocasião da cerimónia de abertura da 8ª sessão da VIII legislatura. Maputo, 16 de Outubro de 2013. The most recent official poverty data reveals that 11.8 million Mozambican (out of 21.5 million) live below the poverty line (MPD 2010). Source: Ministério da Planificação e Desenvolvimento (MPD). Pobreza e bem-estar em Moçambique: terceira avaliação nacional. Maputo,2010. Mozambique’s Human Development Index (HDI) value for 2012 is 0.327—in the low human development category—positioning the country at 185 out of 187 countries and territories. Between 1980 and 2012, Mozambique’s HDI value increased from 0.217 to 0.327, an increase of 51 percent or average annual increase of about 1.3 percent. At the birth of the MDM in 2009, Mozambique’s HDI valued for 0.202. Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The rise of the south: human progress in a diverse world. Refer to explanatory note on 2013 composite indices.http://tinyurl.com/pr4vjhh retrieved on the 27 November 2013.
13. In an attempt to address this situation the government of Mozambique formulated a strategy paper for the Reduction of Urban Poverty (PERPU). Official government data for the period 1997 - 2007 shows a slight increase in the number of the urban population in Mozambique (from 29% in 1997 to 29.8% in 2007). At the same time urban poverty has fallen by about 11% (between 1996-97 and 2002-03, from 62.0 to 51.5%). Paradoxically however, the level of inequality measured by the Gini coefficient has increased (0.44 to 0.52). (Arndt et al 2005; MPD et al. 2010).