Guebuza wants RENAMO to participate in elections

Mozambican President Armando Guebuza declared in Addis Ababa on Wednesday that he hopes to see the former rebel movement Renamo participating in the presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections scheduled for 15 October.

Mozambican President Armando Guebuza
Mozambican President Armando Guebuza

Speaking at a meeting with the Mozambican community resident in Ethiopia, where he is to attend the African Union heads of state summit this week, Guebuza said “Renamo did not participate in the last municipal elections, and we want it to participate in the next general elections and take its place in society, particularly at the level of the policies we are applying in the country”.

He added that because Renamo boycotted the municipal elections, Renamo now has no presence at all in the country’s 53 municipal assemblies.

Renamo still has 51 members sitting in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, but they too would disappear, if Renamo’s boycott policy were to continue.

“If Renamo does not take part in the elections, then these brains (of the Renamo deputies) are not going to be very productive on the political scene of our country”, Guebuza said.

He also expressed his concern at the attacks by Renamo gunmen against vehicles and other civilian and military targets, which have caused a trail of death and destruction. He said the government is attempting to end these attacks, but for this to happen, “Renamo must feel part of our society and must make its contribution”.

“That’s why we’re holding a dialogue with Renamo”, he stressed. That dialogue was interrupted for three months, with Renamo boycotting meetings, because it was demanding the presence of Mozambican and foreign observers and mediators. But Renamo came back to the dialogue table on Monday.

There had been other channels of communication, but Guebuza believed “the best way of making these contacts is through this dialogue which can allow us to solve the problems we have. It’s through dialogue that the solution can be found to problems, and can lead to the integration, or reintegration, of Renamo into society”.

The President stressed that any agreement or understanding reached with Renamo must not call into question the Mozambican constitution, and “any agreement reached should result in a Mozambique better than the Mozambique we have today”.

For Guebuza there was no sufficient explanation for the current politico-military tensions. He pointed out that the government and Renamo had signed a general peace agreement in 1992, bringing an end to the 16 year long war of destabilisation, and allowing the country to reach its current stage of economic and social development.

But now one of the signatories, Renamo, “says it’s not satisfied with what is happened and wants to go back and check the peace accord. We say no, you can’t go back to the accord because it’s been incorporated into the constitution”.

Guebuza stressed there is no such thing as a finished society. “We look throughout the world and we see that there are more developed and less developed countries, and they all have their problems”.

Working together was the best way of solving problems, even the distribution of wealth, he said, because “the resort to weapons does not help in any way”.

Guebuza also spoke of the exploitation of the country’s natural resources, pointing out that while they remained untouched in the subsoil, they were no more than “a promise”.

“Now we have to work so that these promises become a reality”, he said. “The resources are under the ground, now we have to take them out, and we have to transform them so that they become more useful”.

Then came the question of distribution of wealth. “We can’t distribute something we don’t have”, stressed Guebuza.

Over the past 15 years, Mozambique has been recording an average annual growth rate of seven per cent, he added. “Now, with the presence of coal and natural gas, we have expectations that growth can be higher”.

But to achieve this, serious logistical challenges had to be overcome. “Fortunately people are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of this”, said Guebuza, “and our schools and institutes are turning towards training in the area of logistics”.

Also in Addis Ababa is prominent Mozambican academic Lourenco do Rosario who has been in regular contact with Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, and has been transmitting messages between Dhlakama and Guebuza. The government has accepted Rosario and Anglican bishop Dinis Sengulane as observers in the dialogue with Renamo.

Speaking in the Ethiopian capital (where he is attending a meeting of the African Peer Review Mechanism), Rosario told the independent television station STV that Dhlakama is now willing to demilitarize Renamo.

“He accepts the principle of disarming his forces”, Rosario said. But the Renamo leader had also told him “he didn’t want to have the same problems that the government has with demobilised soldiers”.

He was presumably referring to the sporadic demonstrations held in Maputo by the Forum of Demobilised Soldiers in pursuit of higher pensions.

Post published in: Africa News
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