Mozambicans agree on separation of party and state

The dialogue between the Mozambican government and the former rebel movement Renamo, now in its 108th round, on Monday finally achieved consensus on the third point of its agenda, the separation of political parties from the state.

Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco
Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco

The heads of the two delegations, Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco and Renamo parliamentarian Saimone Macuiana, will sign a declaration of principles on the separation of party and state on Friday.

“This point is concluded”, declared Pacheco at the end of the meeting. “The leaderships will sign the document, as we agreed, and it will be submitted to the Assembly of the Republic (the Mozambican parliament) for purposes of legislation”.

It was believed that consensus on this issue had been reached in February, on the basis of a document presented by the Mozambican mediators to the dialogue. But before anything could be signed, Renamo added new points which the government found unacceptable.

The first of these was that the President of the Republic, and all other high ranking officials would be barred from any party political activity during normal working hours. The government delegation found this an absurd idea, and pointed out that the President was elected on the basis of a party political programme which he was committed to implementing.

A further sudden demand from Renamo, raised in April, was that companies in which leaders of public institutions hold shares should be barred from bidding for public contracts. The government position on this issue was simply that political leaders and public managers should be forbidden from taking decisions on tenders.

The deadlock broke on Monday when, once again, the mediators made a proposal, and both sides accepted it. The exact nature of this agreement has not yet been made public.

But it is clear that the Renamo attitude was dictated by the Party’s leader, Afonso Dhlakama. Speaking at the end of last week’s meeting in Beira of the Renamo National Council, Dhlakama gave orders to end the discussion on separation of party and state.

He said the two delegations should just sign what they had agreed so far, and hand the matter over to parliament.

The mediators were delighted at this turn of events. Speaking in the name of all the mediators, Catholic priest Filipe Couto said “today is a day when the mediators should give thanks to God, because something has really happened. We saw a willingness on both sides, particularly from Renamo”.

He was realistic enough to attribute this to decisions taken at the Renamo meeting in Beira. “Renamo was willing to conclude the document, so we noted that Renamo must have had a good discussion in Beira. What emerged from the discussion is that there must be a written document which will be put into practice. That is what we, as mediators, always asked for”.

As for the threats made by the spokesperson for the Renamo National Council, Jose Manteigas, that Renamo will set up its own police and armed forces, Couto dismissed these as mere bravado.

“Manteigas talked for the sake of talking”, he said. “Who will pay for all this? Who will give food to an army, arrange vehicles, find weapons and uniforms?”

Pacheco seemed to believe that the dialogue can now move onto the fourth and final point on the agenda drawn up by Renamo – unspecified “economic matters”. But the clear message from Dhlakama. at the Renamo National Council, was that the dialogue is now over, and there would be no further sessions – although nobody would be surprised if Renamo changed its mind and decided to go on talking.

Menacingly, Macuiana threatened that Renamo would regroup its militia (known politely as “residual forces”) in the central district of Gorongosa, where they would “await new orders”. Such troop movements would be a clear violation of last September’s agreement on a cessation of military hostilities, signed by Dhlakama and by the then President, Armando Guebuza.

Post published in: Africa News

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