Alice Mabota, the first woman to dare contest for Mozambique’s presidential seat

A woman has for the first time in the history of Mozambique’s elections ventured into the presidential race. The general election which is set to hold on Tuesday, October 15 would see the likes of Maria Alice Mabota contesting for the presidential seat.

Mabota has filed nomination papers on the ticket of a number of parties, saying she will contest as a candidate of a coalition, the Democratic Alliance Coalition, CAD. CAD is a group of six parties and Mabota is not a member but was chosen to run on the Coalitions ticket.

The 70-year-old was relentless in her pursuit of education, serving as a cleaner in various institutions and attending high school classes in the evening. Although Alice is from the Mabota family who are typically known for their indigenous status, she worked her way through the ladders of success. Even if it meant jumping from one secondary school to another to obtain knowledge.

Currently, there are about 26,826 Mabota’s in Mozambique but Maria Alice has distinguished herself, making strides in Mozambique’s politics. In 1973 the presidential aspirant began working at the Instituto de Investigação Agronómica of the Colonial Agricultural Authority which later became the Ministry of Agriculture. After leaving the Ministry seven years later due to personal differences, Alice got a job offer to come work in the Mozambican secret service Serviços de Informação e Segurança do Estado (SISE). She rejected the offer.

Her zeal for education is nothing compared to her hatred for abuse. As far back as the ’90s, Mabota was one first people to publicly challenge the government’s abuses. Her love for activism was born in a human rights conference in Vienna and harnessed in Mozambique. It is evident the Liga dos Direitos Humanos de Moçambique or the Human Rights League she founded.

Her activism won her the International Women of Courage Award also referred to as the United States Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award⁠— an award presented annually by the United States Department of State to women around the world who have shown leadership, courage, resourcefulness and willingness to sacrifice for others, especially in promoting women’s rights.

This upcoming election is not the first Mabota has considered contesting. In 2014, Mabota temporarily considered running for the presidential election, but eventually withdrew. Not to say that she won’t withdraw or consider withdrawing much later in the race, but for now, she is in the race and is the fifth candidate to file papers.

She is quoted to have stated, “I am not scared. I know I will face stones and boulders, but I cannot give up.”

“I have accepted the proposal, aware that it will not be easy, there are machines and an electoral model that constitutes an immense challenge for the viability of this candidacy, but this does not frighten us, I know that I am small, I know that I am going to face pebbles, stones and rocks. But the will to change the country, to put it back in progress is much stronger than what would allow me to give up,” she said in a press conference after submitting papers of candidacy.

In the Southern African country, the president is elected for a five-year term. Mozambican elections are run by a National Election Commission (CNE) and under the electoral laws, the nomination papers of all candidates are vetted and cleared by the Constitutional Council, Mozambique’s highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law.