Simango was first elected Beira's mayor in an electoral coalition with Renamo, Mozambique’s main opposition party. Five years later, however, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama refused to let him run for re-election. So he ran and won as an independent, and then established the Mozambique Democratic Movement. His brother, Lutero Simango, is the party's vice president and its leader in the national parliament.
Simango ran for president of Mozambique in 2009, 2014 and 2019, coming third each time after candidates from the ruling Frelimo party and Renamo. His best result was in 2009, when he won 8.59% of the vote.
His party, the MDM, at one point governed four cities — including the biggest city in the north of the country, Nampula, as well as Quelimane, the capital of Zambezia province, and the smaller city of Gurue. By the time of his death, however, Beira was the party’s only electoral possession.
Simango was born in what is now Tanzania, the son of Uria Simango, the exiled deputy head of the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, known as Frelimo, the movement that fought against Portuguese colonial rule. However, his father eventually became estranged from the party.
Frelimo came to power when Mozambique won independence from Portugal in 1975 and Simango's father was a critic of the ruling party.
AP journalist Tom Bowker in Uzes, France, contributed.