Dhlakama again threatens to use force

Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Mozambique’s former rebel movement Renamo has again threatened to go back to war, if the ruling Frelimo Party does not accept his demand to put five northern and central provinces under Renamo control.

Afonso Dhlakama
Afonso Dhlakama

This was the content of a Renamo bill to create “provincial municipalities” which the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, rejected in April, on the grounds that many of its clauses violated the Constitution.

The Renamo bill would have allowed “presidents of provincial councils” to be appointed in Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa provinces without any elections. In these provinces the president of the provincial council would be appointed “by the candidate most voted in the presidential elections” – which was Dhlakama in Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia and Nampula, and the Frelimo candidate, now President of the Republic, Filipe Nyusi, in Niassa.

The president of the Provincial Council would appoint the members of the Council based on “political and personal trust”. The President of the Council would also appoint all the district administrators and heads of administrative posts in the province and, after consulting the district administrator, the heads of localities too. If the Assembly had accepted this proposal, it would have put the entire structure of five provinces, from top to bottom, in the hands of Renamo.

Since then Dhlakama has repeatedly threatened to take the provinces he wants “by force” unless Frelimo changes its mind, and accepts the Renamo bill. Frelimo representatives have said they have no intention of changing their mind.

Dhlakama is now in the central city of Beira, where the Renamo National Council begins a meeting on Tuesday. The sole item on the agenda is the Renamo bill on “provincial municipalities”.

Speaking on Monday to the independent television station STV, Dhlakama said “the National council will decide = either the situation will remain as it is, or everything will go down!”

He claimed he was under pressure from his supporters to take strong action. Addressing a crowd, he declared. “You say Dhlakama is weak. I am not weak. I don’t want war. I just want a decision of the National Council to tell Frelimo ‘’in three days time it will be like this!’’”

“I want to hear Nyusi say ‘go away, Dhlakama!’. He will see what will happen then”, he menaced. “If the provincial municipalities need a Satunjira-2, then I am prepared for that”.

Satunjira was the guerrilla base where Dhlakama lived in 2012-13, and from which he commanded the Renamo low level insurgency in Sofala province. The armed forces (FADM) occupied the Satunjira base in October 2013.

In the space of less than a week, Dhlakama has reversed his position on whether he will resume a bush war. Speaking to reporters last Wednesday in the western city of Tete, he declared there’s no need to go back to Satunjira, although we could do that. We could go to Gorongosa (the district of which Satunjira is part) , but we’ve swallowed a lot so that there will be no more war in the country”.

Post published in: Africa News

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