Dhlakama suspends dialogue with government

Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Mozambique’s former rebel movement Renamo, on Saturday announced he was suspending the long-running dialogue between his party and the government.

Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama

Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama

The dialogue, which began in April 2013, was held at Renamo’s request, with an agenda provided by Renamo. After 114 rounds of talks, there is almost nothing to show for the dialogue. In particular, Renamo has refused to disarm. Despite the agreement signed on 5 September last year on a cessation of military hostilities, the Renamo militia has not been disbanded.

Dhlakama announced the end of the dialogue on Saturday, at a rally in the central city of Quelimane, following a two day conference of demobilized Renamo fighters.

Filmed by the independent television station STV, he justified his decision to suspend the dialogue on the grounds that “the government does not want Renamo to form part of the governance of the country”.

Dhlakama went further and declared he is not prepared “to take tea with (President Filipe) Nyusi. Never again!”

When Dhlakama made this categorical statement, he could not have known that on Sunday Nyusi, speaking at a religious service, would promise to invite him for a formal meeting “to discuss an effective peace”.

Dhlakama also announced that Renamo is fully prepared to begin governing in the six provinces (Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa) where he claimed victory in the 15 October general elections.

“We did everything during the negotiations in the political dialogue with the government to reach a good conclusion about our insertion in the governance of the county, but it is clear that Frelimo doesn’t want that”, he said.

In fact, Renamo’s “insertion into the governance of the country” was not on the agenda of the dialogue, and was not so much as mentioned. Dhlakama’s demand to take over six provinces dates from February of this year, and was never put on the dialogue table.

Dhlakama was also annoyed that the government has withdrawn the cars it had lent to the Renamo delegation attending the weekly dialogue rounds, claiming that this showed “lack of consideration and contempt” for Renamo members.

“Citizens of other nationalities are valued more than the Mozambican militants of Renamo”, he claimed.

“We never needed Frelimo’s cars”, he added. “This decision reveals, above all, their despair, because they thought they would manage to corrupt our delegation”.

Since it was Renamo that requested the dialogue, it is hard to understand why the government lent the Renamo delegation cars in the first place – particularly as Renamo receives a substantial subsidy from the state budget based on the size of its parliamentary group.

The meeting of the Renamo demobilized decided to set up another barracks, referred to as “a general staff”, in Morrumbala district, in the central province of Zambezia, which would house the demobilized troops, while they awaited “future missions”.

A representative of the Renamo demobilized, Victor Viandro, cited by the independent newssheet “Mediafax” claimed that this was not a preparation for returning to war. During the meeting, he added, Dhlakama himself had threatened to resign as Renamo commander, if the demobilized opted for war.

However, Dhlakama has repeatedly threatened to take power in the six provinces he wants “by force”, and it is hard to see much difference between seizing power by force, and returning to war.

Post published in: Africa News

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