José Condungua Pacheco, born 1958 in the Sofala Province, was appointed minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation for Mozambique on 14 December 2017.
He previously served as Minister of Agriculture from 2010 to 2017 and Minister of the Interior from 2005 to 2009.
José Pacheco was governor of Cabo Delgado Province from 1998 to 2005 and vice minister of agriculture from 1995 to 1998. He is a certified agricultural technology engineer.
He served as the National Director for Rural Development and from 1981-1990 and was the Provincial Agriculture Director for Zambeze Province. He attended Wye College, University of London, and the universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin-Madison both in the United States.
He is a rising figure inside the ruling party the Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo) and played an important role in 2010 during negotiations with the belligerent Resistência Nacional Moçambicana (Renamo) opposition party when President Guebuza appointed him to head the Frelimo delation to the talks.
José Pacheco, a rigid and inflexible man, is considered one of the most experienced Frelimo members.
With an extensive network of contacts with the government and businessmen of China when he was Minister of Agriculture and Governor of the province of Cabo Delgado the appointment of José Pacheco shows the interest of President Filipe Nyusi in strengthening economic and trade relations with China.
The appointment of the new foreign minister, José Pacheco, in December, comes at a time when many Western donors are moving away from the country and suspended support for Mozambique in 2016 after the disclosure of hidden debts, forcing the country to make up an unexpected deficit in funding.
The nomination of the new foreign minister was seen by most western countries as an approach to China, considering the political and business connections that Pacheco made in the Asian country as a minister Agriculture and governor of the province of Cabo Delgado.
China has become one of the main Mozambican partners, especially as an agent of State funding and specific projects, a context in which the privileged links of the new Foreign Minister can prove to be providential.
This reinforcement of the relationship with China was more evident when back in January, Nyusi named one of the most experienced Mozambican diplomats on the Asian continent, Maria Gustava, who has worked in Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia, as the new ambassador to Beijing.
Gustava’s predecessor, former Prime Minister Aires Ali, returned to Maputo to join the most important decision-making body of Frelimo, the Political Commission.
The strategy of the Mozambican authorities in the medium term is to speed up efforts to strengthen ties with Asian countries – particularly China (a large creditor in Mozambique) and coal and gas-importing countries including India, Japan, and Thailand, which own companies that are major investors in Mozambique.