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File photo / President Filipe Nyusi
In a post-Congress reshuffle triggered by ill health and the need to prepare for the integration of Renamo forces, President Filipe Nyusi last week appointed new heads in the military, police and security services.
Lagos Lidimo steps down as director general of the State Intelligence and Security Service (SISE), while Graca Chongo retires as armed forces (FADM) Chief of Staff. Both are known to be seriously ill. And the deputy commander of the national police (PRM), Jose Weng San, died two weeks ago after a lengthy illness.
Lazaro Menete, formerly commander of the army, is promoted to be the new armed forces head, replacing Chongo. Prior to his army service, he was a rear admiral and navy commander. The armed forces deputy chief of staff Raul Dique was named by Nyusi last year, and is one of the senior officers who came from Renamo after the 1992 peace accord. Menete is replaced as army commander by Ezequiel Muianga, former chief of staff of the Presidential Guard.
Julio dos Santos Jane, who had been named police commander by Nyusi in March 2016, replaces Lidimo as head of SISE. He is a lawyer who received military training in the USSR. During the 1982-92 war, Jane was in charge of the military unit protecting Maputo and successfully repelled Renamo. (O Pais, 4 Mar 2016) Jane was later marginalised by Guebuza. Bernardino Rafael, formerly head of the Maputo City Police, was promoted to police commander to replace Jane. Timoteo Bernardo, formerly head of the Manica provincial police, becomes the new police deputy commander, replacing Weng San.
Comment: This reshuffle confirms that Nyusi finally consolidated his power at the Frelimo Congress, nearly three years after he took office as President. But it also is looking ahead to the integration of Renamo into the military and security services.
In an attempt to remove key people linked to former President Armando Guebuza, Nyusi looked back to people of the Chissano generation, who were relatively old but had no loyalty to Geubuza. Lidimo had been made armed forces chief of staff by Chissano and was sacked by Guebuza in 2008. Lidimo was born in 1950 and was already ill when Nyusi pulled him out of retirement early this year to reduce the Guebuza influence in SISE.
Jane is from Manica, but has been a personal friend of Nyusi since the time he was provincial police commander in Nampula and Nyusi was head of the northern railways. Lidimo was appointed in part because he was Makondi and it seemed important to use his Makondi backers to consolidate control of SISE – and now seems to have always been a short term appointment. By contrast, naming Jane gives Nyusi personal control of SISE.
It now appears there is at least outline agreement with Afonso Dhlakama on integration of Renamo generals and soldiers into the army, police and SISE, and that this will need to start early next year. This is a is a touchy issue, both because hard-liners, notably in the Guebuza wing of Frelimo, had opposed this, and because Dhlakama felt, with some justification, that his generals and soldiers were marginalised in the new joint army in 1994.
Thus Nyusi appears to be appointing people who are both loyal to him and willing to seriously integrate Renamo. Menete was only named army commander in June 2016, but Nyusi used the installation ceremony to say that reconciliation inside the armed forces (FADM) is one of the great victories achieved by the Mozambican people: “this reconciliation, which today joins together officers who yesterday were on opposing sides, must continue to inspire the values of inclusion and professionalism inside the family of the defence and security forces”. A clear message that Menete would oversee integration.
Much of the fighting against Renamo in 2015/16 was done by the special police riot squad, and not by the army, which was limited to ineffective shelling of Dhlakama’s mountain headquarters. Thus Renamo is unlikely to have personal grudges against Manete.
Under President Joaquim Chissano, Mozambique intentionally kept only a weak army, in part to prevent a military coup. Few soldiers from either side joined the new army in 1994 but many officers did, and they had with little to do. Guebuza built up a larger military, with weaponry bought partly with the $2 bn secret loan. The obvious choice now would be to return to the Chissano model – an ineffectual military which could allow Renamo generals in senior positions because all army posts would be sinecures.
By Joseph HanlonSource: News reports & clippings