Daviz Simango, the Mayor of Beira, and leader of the country’s second largest opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), died on Monday morning in South Africa from health problems related to the Covid-19 respiratory disease.
Simango was evacuated to South Africa on 13 February. A few days earlier, his wife tested positive for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, but when Simango himself was tested, the result came back negative.
Nonetheless, his health problems were clearly connected with the coronavirus. Lutero Simango, head of the MDM parliamentary group, told AIM at the time that his brother was having trouble breathing. He was suffering from “respiratory insufficiency”, and so it was thought advisable to send him to South Africa for further treatment.
The Mayor had been feeling ill for about a week. He was being treated in Beira, but his condition deteriorated markedly on 12 February. Although he appeared to be improving the following day, the family decided “as a measure of precaution” to transfer him to a clinic in South Africa.
Simango is an extremely popular figure in Beira, where he has been elected mayor four times. In 2003, he ran as a candidate for the main opposition party, Renamo, but the then Renamo leader, Afonso Dhlakama, refused to run Simango for a second term.
So in the 2008 municipal elections Simango ran as an independent, and easily defeated his opponents both from Renamo and from the ruling Frelimo Party.
In 2009, he founded the MDM, and it was as the MDM candidate that he won the Beira municipal elections in 2013 and again in 2018.
He was the MDM candidate in the presidential elections of 2009, 2014 and 2019, coming third (beaten by the Frelimo and Renamo candidates) on all three occasions.
Simango was also a member of the Council of State, a body that advises the President of the Republic.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.