Mozambican opposition mayor, climate fighter dies aged 57: family

Simango redoubled his efforts to build Beira's cliamte defences after the destruction of Cyclone Idai in 2019
Simango redoubled his efforts to build Beira's cliamte defences after the destruction of Cyclone Idai in 2019 Handout UN World Food Programme/AFP/File
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Maputo (AFP)

The leader of Mozambique's second largest opposition party and a top mayor who fought climate change in his low-lying coastal city Beira, Daviz Simango, has died aged 57, his family said Monday.

He was transferred to a South African hospital last week for treatment, his brother Lutero Simango said in a text message, without disclosing the nature of the illness.

Simango had been mayor of Mozambique's second city Beira since 2003 -- first for the largest opposition party, the former rebel group Renamo, and later as an independent, before he formed his Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM) in 2009.

While Simango, a qualified civil engineer, was repeatedly re-elected mayor of Beira, he came in third in national presidential votes three times -- in 2009, 2014 and 2019.

As mayor of Beira, a key port that lies below sea level, Simango worked to shore up the city's climate defences against rising seas, flooding and storms.

Two cyclones ravaged Mozambique's coast in 2019, razing much of Beira, leaving more than 600 dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.