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Proposals for a new flag for Mozambique

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Jury takes Office

Jury On Mozambican Flag And Emblem Takes Office

The jury that will select proposals for a new Mozambican national flag and emblem took office at a ceremony on Tuesday in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.

The jury consists of five members, chosen by the parliamentary parties in proportion to the number of seats they hold: thus the majority Frelimo Party chose three members, and the opposition Renamo-Electoral Union coalition chose the remaining two.

The Frelimo appointees are architect and former public works minister Julio Carrilho (who will chair the jury), painter Sansao Cossa, and writer Nelson Saute. Those appointed by Renamo are writer Barnabe Lucas Nkomo, and painter Xavier Jose Mbeve.

When the Mozambican constitution was amended in 2004, Renamo demanded a new flag and emblem. A promise to revise these national symbols was part of the price paid for Renamo to support the rest of the constitutional amendments: without that pledge Renamo would not have supported any constitutional amendment - and, since constitutional amendments require a two thirds majority which Frelimo cannot muster on its own, not a word of the constitution could have been changed.

The Assembly set up an ad-hoc commission on the national symbols, chaired by Frelimo deputy Hermenegildo Gamito. This commission organised a national competition: citizens were asked to submit new designs for the flag and emblem, and 169 people did so.
On Tuesday, these 169 envelopes were delivered to Carrilho.
He, and other members of the jury, symbolically opened several of them, but did not show their contents to the press.

Carrilho promised that the jury will inspect all the proposals "in an objective and impartial manner". The jury is to select, by the end of this month, the three designs that it regards as the best. These will then go before the next plenary session of the Assembly in November.

The Assembly has the final word, and, like any other constitutional amendment, a vote on the new flag and emblem will require a two thirds majority.

But we have been here before. This is the second competition held to design a new flag. The first one, held in the late 1990s, was a fiasco. The Assembly rejected all the proposals as mediocre.

Gamito admitted to reporters that the same thing might happen again. It is possible that none of the 169 designs will be deemed of good enough quality to represent the nation. "If there is nothing of quality, the jury will make that judgment, but the final decision will be with the plenary of the Assembly", he said.

Even if the jury does think that one or more of the designs is acceptable, it can be overruled by the Assembly. This is quite likely, given the strong attachment among Frelimo deputies to the existing flag and emblem.

Furthermore, in the public debate around the emblems there was strong opposition to any change. A clear majority of those who made their views felt through the media were not only quite happy with the existing national symbols - they thought the whole exercise of the ad-hoc commission and the public competition was a waste of time and money.

This position was put at its most extreme by veteran nationalist, and former chairperson of the Assembly, Marcelino dos Santos, who demanded that the ad-hoc commission be dissolved.

Clearly it will take a very strong and impressive design to shift Frelimo deputies away from the current emblems. The need for a two-thirds majority means that any change in the emblems requires support from both the Frelimo and Renamo parliamentary groups.

"If there is no two-thirds majority, there can be no change in the national symbols", said Gamito. "It's the same as any other constitutional amendment".

The current emblem shows a map of Mozambique, lapped by the waters of the Indian Ocean. An open book is superimposed on the map, above which there is a crossed hoe and rifle. In the background the sun is rising, and the entire emblem is surrounded by two ears of maize. At the top is the red star of internationalism.
The book, hoe and rifle (symbolising study, production and defence) are also prominent on the flag.

Renamo objects to the rifle in particular, but Frelimo insists that the gun is a legitimate symbol, given the fact that Mozambique won its independence through an armed struggle against Portuguese colonial rule.
Source: Agencia de Informação de Moçambique (Maputo).
António Teixeira, 22 Sep 2005

Design competition for new national symbols launched

Competition for New National Symbols Launched

The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, launched on Wednesday a public competition to design a new national flag and a new emblem of the Republic.

The launch of the competition followed approval, by the parliament's governing board, its Standing Commission, of the respective Terms of Reference, contained in a proposal presented by the ad-hoc commission for the revision of national symbols.

This ad-hoc commission was set up as a concession to the former rebel movement Renamo, which has been obsessed with changing the flag for the past decade. Without conceding to Renamo on this issue, it would have been impossible for the majority Frelimo Party to pass the constitutional amendments that were approved last November, and took effect in January.

Constitutional amendments require a two thirds majority in the Assembly - which means they must receive the support of both Renamo and Frelimo. The quid pro quo was clearly to set up yet another ad-hoc commission to find another flag and emblem.

The earlier commission that worked on this issue in the 1990s came to grief. A competition was held to design a new flag - and none of the entries were regarded as good enough.

There is no guarantee that the same thing will not happen this time. The Terms of Reference are that, while allowing a free hand to the creativity of the contesting artists, the symbols should reflect ideas such as "the blood shed by the Mozambican people in the struggle for liberty; national unity; peace; democracy and social justice, and the country's wealth".

The commission's chairperson, Hermenegildo Gamito, said that the contest is open to all Mozambicans, including those living abroad, except the deputies on the ad-hoc commission themselves.

The competition is to run from 15 June to 15 September 2005, when the commission will collect all submissions from which the best three will be selected.

The envelopes containing the entries will be opened at a public session, on 20 September, by a five member jury comprising three deputies from Frelimo and two from Renamo The jury will have until 30 September to select what it regards as the three best entries.

The three selected proposals will then be handed to the ad-hoc commission that will table them to the plenary of the Assembly of the Republic for a final decision on the winner.

The winning contestants are to receive 250 million meticais (about 10,400 US dollars) as first prize for both the national flag and the emblem, 150 million meticais for the runner-up, and 100 million for third place.
Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo), June 16, 2005.
António Teixeira, 19 Jun 2005

Plan to redesign flag divides Mozambicans

Maputo: A controversy has divided Mozambique over a plan to redesign the flag and the national emblem, which sports an AK-47 assault rifle, to reflect the country's return to peace, with critics blasting it as a waste of money and time.

The Mozambican parliament on June 15 approved a law proposed by an ad hoc committee on the proposed changes and on the same day launched a three-month national competition to come up with new designs for both the flag and the national emblem.

The new symbols should "reflect the blood spilt by the Mozambican people in the war for independence as well as national unity, peace, democracy, social justice and the wealth of the nation", it said.

Mozambique gained independence from Portugal 30 years ago before being wracked by a brutal 16-year civil war, which cost a million lives between 1976 and 1992. But the plan has divided political parties and civil groups, including the governing Frelimo.

"We cannot change the flag and inflame political passions in the process. The flag represents one nation, one people, one state," said Edson Macuacua, a high-ranking Frelimo official.

Fernando Mazanga, spokesman for the former rebel Renamo, now the main opposition party, said: "The redesigning of the symbols should reflect the institution of democracy, which sadly came late to Mozambique."

Carlos Jeque, a former independent presidential candidate, said: "The flag and the national emblem were designed during an era of single-party rule. Today the context has changed and the emblem could do with a revamp but the colours of the flag - yellow, white, black, green and red - should not be tampered with."

There are more than 10 symbols in the national emblem, which is emblazoned on coins and currency notes. They include an AK-47, a book, a rake, the sun, a mountain, a map of the country, a rice stalk, maize and the sea. - Sapa-AFP
Source: The Cape Times newspaper.
Bruce Berry, 15 Aug 2005

News on new flag

The creation of a new flag for Mozambique has inched a bit forward recently, according to an article published today (8.6.2005) in Maputo's daily newspaper "Notícias". A summarized translation of the article reads as follows:

"The special commission of the Mozambican Parliament in charge of revising the national flag and seal has met in Maputo to approve the terms of reference for the public competition to design the new symbols. The commission will analyze and attempt to harmonize the proposals from the two parties represented in parliament, Frelimo and Renamo-UE. The document that will result from this meeting will then be discussed by Parliament's Permanent Commission before being submitted to the plenary for final approval. The special commission, created in April, is formed by 15 MPs from both parties.

The current national flag has four colours: red for the long-lasting resistance to colonialism; green for the riches of the soil; black for the African Continent; golden yellow for the underground riches; and white for the righteous struggle of the Mozambican people and for peace.

The seal of the Republic contains the following main elements: a book representing education; a weapon for defence and vigilance; and a hoe for the peasantry and agricultural production. These elements are displayed over a map of Mozambique.

The revision of these two symbols follows the approval of a new National Anthem by the legislative session that ended last December."
Antonio Teixeira, 8 Jun 2005

António Teixeira reports in Lusovex an article published today in the "Notícias" daily newspaper, which includes the following:
The agenda project for this [parliamentary] session, approved last week by the Permanent Commission of the Assembleia da República and which will be submitted this morning to the deputies, establishes the creation of an "ad hoc" commission to review the electoral legislation and another one to change the flag and emblem of the Republic of Mozambique.
António comments that this may mean that the whole process will probably last for quite a while.
Jorge Candeias, 1 Mar 2005

António Teixeira reports in Lusovex that his country's state TV station, TVM reported that the Mozambique parliament (called Assembleia da República, like the Portuguese one) will start next week discussions on the "revision of the flag and national symbol". According to António, nothing else was said on that, but he promises to keep an eye on things.
Jorge Candeias, 26 Feb 2005

The competition has been held, and the jury has made its choice out of the 119 entries. It chose a design by prominent Mozambican architect, Jose Forjaz. However, this design has not yet been published, and it must be ratified next week by the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. Ratification of the new flag is part of a package which includes a new national emblem, a new national anthem, and a series of constitutional amendments. I doubt whether this package will be passed, because the main opposition party, Renamo, objects to the main constitutional changes. But without the constitutional changes, there almost certainly won't be a new flag either.
Paul Fauvet, 24 Sep 1999

Provided the parties can agree, it looks like Mozambique will have a new flag in the near future. Below is a news story, detailing the process that was initiated yesterday. The flag designers on this group will be disappointed though, only people from Mozambique can enter the design competition.
Jan Oskar Engene, 3 Sep 1999

Mozambique to get new national flag

African Eye News Service (South Africa) September 2, 1999

MAPUTO, Mozambique - Mozambique's parliament launched a snap competition on Thursday to redesign the country's flag and national coat of arms, African Eye News Service (South Africa) reports. The public competition was authorised after the country's largest opposition party, RENAMO, refused to approve amendments to Mozambique's constitution without first changing the "militaristic" national flag and emblem. RENAMO objects to the inclusion of an AK47 assault rifle, communist symbolism and the predominant colours of the ruling FRELIMO party in the flag.

The planned constitutional amendments are essential for wider economic and legal reform but FRELIMO has been unable to muster the required two thirds majority in parliament without support from RENAMO. FRELIMO currently has 129 seats in parliament - 38 short of a two-thirds majority. The parliament's current session sits until the end of September. Parliament announced on Thursday that the national competition would be open to all Mozambican artists,
graphic designers and the general public. Designers have to submit their suggestions by midday on September 16 and have to include references to the blood spilt during Mozambique liberation struggle against the Portuguese, the spirit of national unity, peace, social justice and freedom. The winning entry will be awarded US$12 000 and should include detailed suggestions for both a new national flag and a coat of arms.

Mozambique's current flag features an AK47 assault rifle crossed with a hoe on a field of horizontal red, green, black, gold and white stripes. The rifle and hoe are offset to the left-hand side of the flag, superimposed on an open book in a red triangle. The flag is meant to convey Mozambique's commitment to equal education, productive labour and sovereign defence. Mozambique's current coat of arms features another AK47 and hoe crossed over an open book, all superimposed on a map of Mozambique. The circular emblem is framed by stylised cogged or a toothed wheel, symbolising the country's working classes and its drive to industrialise. It also features an ear of maize and a stick of sugar cane, symbolising agriculture.

All entries for the new flag and emblems will be opened for judging by a panel of prominent Mozambicans at a public ceremony two days after the competition closes. The five-member jury will consist of prominent Mozambican artists and intellectuals, three of whom will be chosen by FRELIMO and two by RENAMO.

Copyright (c) 1999 African Eye News Service. Distributed via Africa News Online (
Jan Oskar Engene, 3 Sep 1999

I am not sure whether detailed schedule of the new flag competition in Mozambique has been published in FOTW. It is as follows:
September 16 - deadline for sending proposals
September 20 (tomorrow) - the jury will have to assess the entries
September 22 - final vote in the parliament
Jan Zrzavy, 19 Sep 1999

New flag proposal

 image by Antonio Martins 26 June 1998

Mozambique decided to change its national flag and an ad hoc Commission has been created in the National Assembly. The Commission has not given any answer concerning the selected proposals. The last session of the Parliament is over and no decision has been taken. Decision was postponed till late August 1998 or the next session at the beginning of 1999. The change is scheduled for the general elections next year. Therefore, there is actually no change in the flag.

If blue were to appear in the national flag, it would stand for the second political party in the country. The national anthem should also be modified (only the words, not the music).
Pierre Palac, 28 June 1998, translated by Ivan Sache