“MOZAMBIQUE is back,” says President Filipe Nyusi, hoping to persuade a recent gathering of fellow Commonwealth leaders that the buffeting his country has faced in the past few years is over. But his compatriots need convincing, too. Some point to dramatic changes in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Angola. Each has a new leader who vows to correct the bad habits of a recently ejected predecessor. Why, they ask, can’t Mr Nyusi, who succeeded Armando Guebuza in 2015, do the same?

Mr Nyusi has three hard tasks. First, he must accommodate Renamo, an opposition party that fought a guerrilla war from 1977 to 1992 and rebelled again more recently against Mr Nyusi’s Frelimo party, which has run the show since independence from Portugal in 1975.

Second, he must revive the economy by coming to terms with the IMF and foreign donors who suspended aid soon after a scandal involving $2bn of secret loans was exposed in 2016. Third, Mr Nyusi must chuck out and in some cases bring to book the old guard around Mr Guebuza, reputed to be one of Mozambique’s richest men.

Mr Nyusi has done best with Renamo. He has courageously met its long-serving leader, Afonso Dhlakama, in his hideout. Indeed, he is close to clinching a deal on devolution that would let Renamo share or win power in some provinces. But the two still need to agree on how to demobilise their armed men. Mr Nyusi hopes all will be settled before national elections next year, though some in Frelimo still hanker after a “Savimbi solution”: that Mr Dhlakama should just be killed, as was Angola’s rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi, in 2002. [UPDATE: Mr Dhlakama was reported to have died from natural causes, aged 65, a few hours after this article was published.]

On the economic front, Mr Nyusi is shakier. The high hopes that followed the discovery of vast reserves of gas in 2010 are far from fulfilment; large-scale production is not expected before the mid-2020s. The IMF has yet to be reassured that its requested funds will not be squandered. Mr Nyusi waffles about sorting out the mess with the banks involved in the loan scandal.

And he has not done enough to dislodge his party’s corrupt old guard, as his counterpart in Angola seems to be doing. He has brought a few allies into the ruling politburo and sacked the head of the army and the intelligence service. But he is somewhat hamstrung by his lack of pedigree among the generals; he is the first president of an independent Mozambique not to have fought in the liberation war. “Mr Dhlakama is not our enemy, he is my brother,” he says. “Our enemy is corruption.” If that is indeed the case, victory is still a long way off.