The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, in late April voted against a Renamo bill on provincial municipalities, on the grounds that many of its articles violated the Constitution. Renamo has refused to accept this defeat and is now demanding that the ruling Frelimo Party change its mind, or it will impose its version of provincial autonomy by force.
The “provincial municipalities” were the main subject of discussion at a meeting of the Renamo National Council which opened in Beira on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the spokesperson for the meeting, Renamo parliamentary deputy Jose Manteigas, said the National Council had decided that the “provincial municipalities” must be created “for better or for worse”, even if that meant using the Renamo militia.
Cited in the Beira daily paper “Diario de Mocambique”, Manteigas claimed that Frelimo is plotting to eliminate Renamo and assassinate its leader, Afonso Dhlakama. Such accusations have been countless times in the past, as a justification for Renamo violence. Yet Dhlakama is still very much alive.
“The National Council has concluded that Renamo should created its own armed forces, a police force, in order to defend itself from the attacks of Frelimo, which intends to eliminate physically Renamo and President Dhlakama”, said Manteigas.
Asked where these forces would come from, Manteigas replied “Right now the National Council is deciding. But all Mozambicans knows that Renamo has its own protection. The Renamo men are much more valiant than the army which Frelimo tries to manipulate”.
Manteigas boasted that Renamo has men “in combat positions” throughout the country ready to respond to any attempt by the government to prevent Renamo from imposing its “provincial municipalities”.
He claimed that this “combat readiness” is “defensive” in order to warn the government not to use what he called “agitation” in the provinces where Renamo intends to seize control.
“If the government uses its resources to combat our troops, we are ready to respond in record time, and we are willing to do so”, said Manteigas.
“We are going to govern these regions”, he added. “The current leaders will have to decide whether they go with Renamo or stay with Frelimo”.
If Renamo carries out these threats, it will be tearing up the agreement on cessation of hostilities signed last September between Dhlakama and the then President, Armando Guebuza. The whole purpose of that agreement was to disarm and demobilize the Renamo militia, and integrate its members into the armed forces (FADM), the police or back into civilian life. From the declarations made by Manteigas, it is clear that Renamo does not have the slightest intention of disarming.
Renamo has repeatedly accused Frelimo of manipulating traditional leaders. Yet at the National Council meeting, reporters could see, in the front rows, dozens of “regulos” (chiefs) and other local leaders, all wearing their official uniforms (provided by the government) and waving Renamo flags.
The Renamo bill on “provincial municipalities” 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, (although Dhlakama, against all the evidence, claims that he won in Niassa too).
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 at least five provinces, from top to bottom, in the hands of Renamo.Post published in: Africa News