Ten out of twelve bishops in the Anglican Church of Mozambique and Angola are demanding the resignation of their leader, Most Rev. Carlos Matsinhe.
The reason behind this call is his alleged involvement in voter fraud during the recent national elections, where the ruling FRELIMO party claimed an overwhelming victory.
A critical meeting of the bishops has been scheduled for November 14, 2023, in Maputo. The sole agenda for this emergency gathering is to press Archbishop Matsinhe to resign due to his perceived role in the controversial elections that have sparked concerns.
Archbishop Matsinhe wears a dual hat as he also leads the National Elections Commission (CNE), the body responsible for approving the results of the October 11, 2023, elections. The outcomes of these elections have raised eyebrows, with FRELIMO securing victories in 64 out of 65 cities. This has triggered suspicions, especially considering that Renamo, the main opposition, lost control of eight cities and only managed to secure victory in one town, Beria.
The Anglican Council of Mozambique (CAM) added its voice to the growing concerns on October 22, 2023. In a letter addressed to Archbishop Matsinhe, CAM emphasized the need for the CNE to strictly adhere to electoral laws and uphold transparency. Expressing worries about potential external interference in the elections, CAM called for peaceful conduct among Mozambicans, voters, and political parties.
The bishops’ collective letter showed their distress over reported irregularities in the electoral process. They emphasized a crucial point, stating that the CNE functions as a state entity and is not affiliated with any religious group, including the Anglican Church.
A noteworthy aspect of this call for resignation is that ten bishops, excluding only the Bishop of Nampula, Rt. Rev. Manuel Ernesto, have thrown their support behind it. Internal political dynamics are at play, with Matsinhe and Ernesto receiving backing from the Archbishop of Cape Town, Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba. In contrast, the other ten bishops align themselves with the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans.
During a conference held in August, Bishop Anthonly Poggo of the Anglican Consultative Council urged the bishops to consider electing Bishop Ernesto as the next leader. This move could potentially align the province more closely with the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, the likely successor to Archbishop Matsinhe, Rt. Rev. Vincente Msosa of Zambesia, introduces a new layer to this evolving political landscape.
This call for resignation holds significant implications for the Anglican Church in Mozambique and Angola. It marks a pivotal moment where religious leadership intersects with national politics.
The outcome of the November 14 meeting will undoubtedly influence the future trajectory of the church and its role in addressing the broader challenges facing the nation.