Dhlakama Wants to Meet Guebuza

Dhlakama poderá reunir-se com Guebuza, após acusações à Frelimo de tortura e desrespeito a membros da Renamo em Mocimboa da Praia, Cabo Delgado (Norte de Moçambique). Será interessante seguir o desenrolar deste anunciado encontro. Seria a primeira vez que ambos se encontrariam após a eleição de Guebuza. Até agora, todos os convites dirigidos a Dhlakama foram rejeitados, incluindo o lugar no conselho de estado.

(Meanwhile, Guebuza is in Atlanta, USA) The leader of Mozambique’s former rebel movement Renamo, Afonso Dhlakama, has said that he wants to meet with President Armando Guebuza, to discuss persecution, torture and arbitrary detention to which Renamo members and sympathisers are allegedly subject in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

Dhlakama recently visited that province, where he said that he received such complaints on the part of his followers, particularly in the municipality of Mocimboa da Praia, which was the scene of clashes in early September between supporters of Renamo and of the ruling Frelimo Party. In this violence, at least eight people lost their lives.

The violence came in the wake of Renamo protests against the results of the 21 May municipal by-elections, won by the Frelimo candidate, Amadeu Pedro.

Speaking to reporters in the neighbouring province of Nampula, Dhlakama said he wanted to discuss with Guebuza “in a cordial manner, an urgent issue that may have an impact, even in terms of people’s food security in the region”.

He said that he received reports in Mocimboa da Praia according to which Renamo members and sympathisers are being impeded by Frelimo members from carrying out their economic activities. Supposedly Frelimo members are keeping the Renamo supporters away from their fields, and this was producing hunger in Mocimboa da Praia.

Dhlakama said that this is a time for unity among the Mozambican people, because “we are faced with the problem of drought, and we do not need additional reasons for suffering”.

Asked for evidence of the Renamo claims of ill-treatment, Dhlakama simply said “I am coming from the field where I found out these facts, that were reported to me by the residents”.

“I shall speak with Guebuza about hunger in the country. The situation is critical”, he claimed. “Although he stole my votes, he’s still President of all Mozambicans, and so I shall speak with him”.

If this meeting does indeed happen, it will be the first time the leader of the largest opposition party has spoken to the President. Ever since Guebuza won the December 2004 presidential election, Dhlakama has avoided speaking with him: he has boycotted all the events to which Guebuza invited him, including the presidential inauguration in February, an informal lunch to which Guebuza invited all the defeated presidential candidates, and the celebrations of the 30th anniversary of Mozambican independence in June.

Asked about his recent claims that he is under pressure from the Renamo membership not to take up his seat on the Council of State, a body that will advise Guebuza, Dhlakama commented that he is still undecided.

He alleged that his followers “are threatening to abandon Renamo and join other parties if I take my seat on the Council”.

He said that his followers at grass roots level do not know much about this body, and they think it is a Frelimo strategy to silence the opposition.

Renamo spokesperson Fernando Mazanga told reporters on Tuesday that his party’s electorate are insisting that Dhlakama should not join the Council of State.

“We are still thinking about it”, he added, “and we do not yet know whether our leader will take his seat or not”.

Asked why Renamo had performed this sudden volte-face, given that earlier this year Dhlakama had publicly announced that he would sit on the Council of State, Mazanga said “it is Frelimo that is not giving the necessary importance to this organ”.

“When Frelimo thought that it would lose the elections, they agreed to review the Constitution and introduce this body, but after falsifying the results to win the election it no longer gave any importance to this body, and emptied it of its functions”, said Mazanga. He claimed that Frelimo lacked “political will” to set up the Council of State.

Almost all of Mazanga’s statements are demonstrably false.

Frelimo tried to revise the Constitution as long ago as 1999, but since Renamo voted against, the two thirds majority needed for constitutional amendments could not be obtained. The amendments passed in November 2004, including the establishment of the Council of State, were not a panic-stricken reaction to impending elections, but were drawn up over several years by an ad-hoc commission of the Assembly chaired by a Frelimo deputy.

As for the “lack of political will”, the Assembly formally passed the bill setting up the Council of State, and stipulating its powers in November. If Renamo believes it should have been set up a few months earlier, there was nothing to prevent the Renamo parliamentary group from introducing a bill on the Council in the March-May sitting of the Assembly. But it did not do so.The Assembly vote on the Council of State was unanimous – so at that stage, the 90 Renamo deputies all expected Dhlakama to take up his seat


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