Armando Emílio Guebuza

His Excellency Armando Emílio Guebuza was born on January 20, 1943 in Murrupula, in the Northern Province of Nampula Province, where his father, Miguel Guebuza, worked as a male nurse.  His mother, Marta Bocota Guebuza, was a housewife.

In 1948, his father was transferred to Lourenço Marques, the name of the city of Maputo at that time. Here, at the age of six, Armando Guebuza started school at the Centro Associativo dos Negros da Colónia de Moçambique, in the Xipamanine neighbourhood.

As a believer of the Presbyterian Church of Mozambique, a branch of the Swiss Mission, he was integrated in its youth patrols. These, apart from religious activities, engaged in other social and cultural undertakings that demanded the participation of everyone, bound together by the spirit of brotherhood, mutual help, and promotion of a common vision.

At secondary school, he joined the Núcleo dos Estudantes Secundários Africanos de Moçambique (NESAM), “Nucleus” for short, a civic organization founded by Eduardo Mondlane in 1949. The main activities of the Nucleus were tutorials, civic and cultural education and, in a discrete manner, political mobilization.

In 1963, Armando Guebuza was elected President of the Nucleus, a post previously held by Joaquim Chissano, before he left for Portugal in 1960. His election met the expectations of the membership, with the Nucleus becoming a centre of attraction and reference for many youths and adolescents of the time.

In the same year, Armando Guebuza joined the FRELIMO underground network, in the city of Lourenço Marques. His experience in the leadership of the Nucleus, his charisma, and the fact that he was a tutor at the dominical school, were key to the promotion and development of clandestine work amongst the students with great impact.

In March of 1964, Armando Guebuza and other colleagues decided to leave Mozambique to join FRELIMO. To escape from PIDE control, the dreaded Portuguese secret police, they had to abandon Mapai, at 4 o’clock in the morning by train that they boarded to leave Mozambique.

They then walked over 80 kilometres from Mapai to the border village of Chicualacuala, where they arrived exhausted, hungry, and thirsty. Twenty hours after leaving the train, and on the Southern Rhodesian side of the border, they continued to walk, non-stop, for more than 30 kilometres until they caught the train to Salisbury, Harare. Along this route, they were joined by two more Mozambicans.

From Salisbury, the group that Armando Guebuza was part of departed for Zambia. On the train, they were arrested by the Southern Rhodesian police, as they were preparing to leave that country. They were jailed at a Victoria Falls prison.

Armando Guebuza and his colleagues were subsequently handed over to PIDE. For approximately five months, they were tortured in order to wrench confession out of them, to no avail. They were then set free. 

At the time of their release, the guerrillas of the FRELIMO Fourth Region who were preparing to open the Southern Front were arrested. Despite the fact that they were under surveillance, Armando Guebuza and his comrades decided to take revenge against PIDE for these arrests and reaffirm with deeds of courage that FRELIMO was alive.

On the night of the December 24 or 25, 1964, using their sophisticated underground network, they had pamphlets with the photograph of Eduardo Mondlane distributed in the Southern region of Mozambique in the provinces of Inhambane, Gaza, and Maputo. This situation forced PIDE to issue a press release containing the list of names of the guerrillas detained with details of the political background of each of them.

Despite the intimidations and blackmail by PIDE, Guebuza and his colleagues nurtured their dream of joining FRELIMO. They left for Swaziland where they stayed for some months. Later on, they managed to clandestinely cross South Africa and, in the British Protectorate of Bechuanaland (known as Botswana today), were arrested again and threatened with deportation by the British authorities.

As a result of the intervention of the President of FRELIMO, Dr. Eduardo Mondlane, demanding their unconditional release, the group was handed over to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and sent to Zambia. From there, the group headed for Tanzania driven by Mariano Matsinha, then FRELIMO Representative to Zambia.

In Tanzania, Armando Guebuza underwent military training in Bagamoyo. He then joined the group of freedom fighters who opened the Political and Military Training Camp of Nachingweya.

In 1966, he was transferred from Nachingweya to Dar-es-Salaam, to take the post of Private Secretary to President Mondlane, replacing Joaquim Chissano, who was preparing to leave for training in the Union of the Socialist Soviet Republics. At the same time, Armando Guebuza taught at the Mozambican Institute.

Later on in 1966, he was appointed Secretary for Education and Culture.

Guebuza has been a member of the Central Committee of FRELIMO since 1966. Since then, he has also been a member of its innermost circle, today known as the Political Commission, which is FRELIMO´s highest decision making body between Congresses.

In 1968, he was appointed Inspector of FRELIMO schools.

In 1970, he was appointed National Political Commissar.

During the Transition Government, His Excellency Guebuza held the portfolio of Home Affairs. In the first Government of independent Mozambique, he was appointed Interior Minister.

In 1974, Armando Emílio Guebuza led, in his capacity as Political Commissar, the process for the establishment of Grupos Dinamizadores, the grassroots political and administrative structures that replaced the crumbling Portuguese administration.

In 1977, the FRELIMO Standing Political Committee appointed Armando Guebuza to lead the commission responsible for the resettlement of the flood victims in the Province of Gaza. It is as the result of this effort, and in collaboration with local authorities and the population, at large, that the communal villages dotting the slopes of the Limpopo Valley, today in steady progress, were born.

Still in 1977 as part of the National Political Commissar, Armando Guebuza was appointed National Defence Deputy Minister. In 1978, he held these posts together with that of Governor of the Northern Province of Cabo Delgado. In 1981, he was appointed Governor of the Province of Sofala and in 1983, he was appointed Interior Minister.

In 1984, he was appointed Minister in the Office of the President, with responsibility for the coordination of the areas of Agriculture, Trade, Light Industry and Tourism, as well as cooperation with China, North Korea, Pakistan and Vietnam.

In 1986, he was appointed Minister of Transport and Communications and Chairman of the Southern Africa Development Community Committee of Ministers of Transport and Communications.

In 1990, he was designated Head of the Government delegation to the Rome talks that resulted in the signing of the General Peace Agreement in 1992. In 1992, he was named Head of the Government delegation to the Commission for the Supervision and Implementation of the General Peace Agreement.

Armando Guebuza, a retired Lieutenant-General, was also involved with the Burundi Peace process under the aegis of the late President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere and, later on, of the South African President, Nelson Mandela. His Excellency Armando Guebuza was in charge of the Commission on the Nature of Burundi Conflict, Problems of Genocide and Exclusion and its Solutions.

In 2000, he was chosen, by consensus, by the parties in the conflict in Burundi, to chair the Commission for Guarantees for the Implementation of the Agreement resulting from the Peace negotiations.

Guebuza was Chief Whip of FRELIMO Bench since the first multiparty parliament that emerged from the General Elections of 1994, until FRELIMO VIII Congress in 2002.

In June 2002, he was elected FRELIMO Secretary-General and fielded as this Party’s Candidate for the 2004 Presidential Elections.

In February 2005, he was sworn in as Mozambique’s third President after a sweeping victory at the December 2004 Elections.

In March 2005, he was elected President of the FRELIMO ruling Party and re-elected at its IX and X Congresses in November 2006 and September 2012, respectively.

In January 2010, he was sworn in for his second term after an overwhelming victory at the October 2009 Elections.

Source: Permanent Mission of Mozambique to the United Nations, September 2013