Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Thursday sacked his prime minister in a major cabinet reshuffle that appeared calculated to minimise the political fallout from damning testimony in an ongoing corruption trial.
Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario had held the post since the start of Filipe Nyusi's presidency in 2015. But he was sacked along with six other ministers, including four holding the key portfolios of Finance, Mineral Resources, Industry and Public Works.
These four ministers had also been in office since Filipe Nyusi came to power, and several political observers were suggesting that he might find new positions for them. The reshuffle seemed clearly intended to stem the political damage caused by the ongoing trial of 19 senior officials in a $2 billion corruption scandal that has plunged the country's economy into crisis.
In testimony last month, former president Armando Guebuza accused Filipe Nyusi, then defence minister, of incurring a $2 billion debt, hiding responsibility from parliament and buying ships that are still largely docked.
Political analyst Adriano Nuvunga said the reshuffle could allow Filipe Nyusi to bring in political heavyweights who can protect him ahead of the ruling Frelimo party conference in September. "He needs strong personalities to defend him," he told AFP. The other two ministers sacked were in charge of fisheries and war veterans.