Portugal and Mozambique sign 13 agreements to strengthen cooperation
File photo / Afonso Dhlakama
Francisco Raiva STV journalist traveled to Gorongosa for an interview with the leader of Renamo Afonso Dhlakama.
Mr President, in early September this year, you announced in Gorongosa mountain range to your members, during a meeting of your party, that the election of governors was taken for granted in the context of the decentralization of the country and that until December of this year, the document related to the election in reference would be deposited in the Assembly of the Republic (RA). We are practically at the end of the year and nothing concrete has progressed. What happened?
You’re right … but I’d start by explaining that negotiating is not easy and it gets even more difficult when it comes to negotiating political issues that affect the lives of millions of people and the future of political parties. Negotiations are underway and soon the document on this subject will be submitted to the Assembly of the Republic, with the proposal for the punctual revision of the Constitution, bearing in mind that, at this moment, this mother document indicates that it should be the President of the Republic to appoint governors. This is all agreed between Renamo and the Government.
So, what is causing so much delay for the entry of this document?
The question of the modality of the governors election is what has conditioned, so far, the progress of this process of decentralization. From the outset, we argued that governors should be elected directly, like the presidents of the municipalities. My Frelimo brothers did not share the same idea. For them, the governors should be elected by the members of the Provincial Assemblies, by means of a secret ballot. And we questioned. If a party has already won the elections in a province, why other elections to the governor? For us, a maneuver was being planned. This different way of seeing the decentralization to be effected, related to the election of the governors, created impasses and the process was spreading until very recently, until in a contact between me and the President of the Republic, on the basis of a proposal advanced by me, we found a way out.
I proposed to the President of the Republic three modalities for the election of governors.
First, if a political party or group of citizens run for provincial elections and conquer the majority, the “head” list of this party or group would automatically be appointed governor of the province.
Second, if a citizen is on a list competing for the provincial election, and his party wins, then he may be appointed governor, as long as he is on the list of members elected to the Provincial Assembly.
Third option, the party that wins the elections may nominate one of its members as governor, provided that it has been registered and has voted, in the elections in question, whether elected or not, as a member of the Provincial Assembly.
The proposals have already been delivered to the President of the Republic. We are waiting for the Government’s final reaction to these proposals, and I believe one of them will be validated.
What makes you believe that one of the proposals will be accepted by the Government?
Because the President of the Republic agrees with the three options. I talked to him about these proposals. Now it is up to the Frelimo Government to choose one. I would like to remind you that the process of decentralization was stagnant because our Frelimo brothers did not agree with our first proposal that went through the direct election of the governors.
Will these proposals for the election of provincial governors be deposited in the Assembly of the Republic?
“No. It will not be necessary. Our proposals are merely between Renamo and the Government of Filipe Nyusi. Therefore, the President and his party will choose one of the three alternatives for the governor’s election. The Assembly of the Republic will only formalize the process of electing governors. My relationship with President Nyusi is brother to brother. In these direct negotiations we conclude that no one should force the other. If I am negotiating with him, make it clear that I am negotiating with the Frelimo Government and he is negotiating with Renamo. Therefore, we have to find a consensus within our parties before we sign agreements to say that if we sign a political agreement that offends one of the parties, it can be hit and we run the risk of dragging these negotiations on indefinitely. Me and the President have been doing the utmost so that when the decentralization document gets in the RA, our benches will approve.
For when is the integration of the Renamo guerrillas into the Defense and Security Forces?
You know, this is the basic condition for me to leave this mountain range (Gorongosa). Unfortunately, negotiations are continuing rather slowly. I understand the difficulties the President is encountering. Following up on dossiers that have been with two presidents, Chissano and Guebuza, negotiating them and in record time leaving them at 100 percent is practically impossible, even if there is a great willingness to do so. What we have been advocating is balance in the leadership of the Defense and Security Forces. For example, if we decide that our army should have eight colonels, then four should be from Frelimo and the other four from Renamo. If it is an odd number, we can have one less with the condition of Frelimo also having one less.
Why this requirement?
I am afraid of being attacked again by the Defense and Security Forces, as happened in September 2015 in Vanduzi and Zimpinga, in the province of Manica and city of Beira, in early October of the same year. We have officers in the Defense and Security Forces, but they do not play any role, so that whatever is planned they know nothing. If we put our pictures there, all plans to question my safety and millions of Mozambicans will be of public knowledge, that is, they will not exist. Unfortunately, there are people who are putting in question the process because they have obscure intentions. They use the Security Forces to cover up their evils, so we continue to negotiate for equality.
The model we are designing, equality in military leadership, accepted by international experts, namely a Philippine General and an official from Switzerland, we think is ideal. It’s the same thing that happened to the ANC guerrillas about the apartheid generals. The process is under way slowly and that is why I am still here in this mountain range of Gorongosa. If our men are placed in the military leadership, then peace will be effective and if it had already happened I would be at this moment in a city in the country or in my homeland, Chibabava district, in Sofala, with my family, enjoying this festive season.
Effective peace is not just the silencing of guns. I gave a truce unilaterally a year ago and our men did not shoot again. It is a historic achievement in the world. Therefore, if the Renamo guerrillas are placed in the military leadership and Frelimo stops using the Defense and Security Forces to kidnap and kill their political opponents, as well as stop manipulating electoral results, we will certainly have an effective peace in the country . The “ball” is on the side of our Frelimo brothers.
In my opinion, the slowness of the military leadership is associated with a lack of will on the part of some people surrounding the President of the Republic. Nyusi is new to Frelimo. There are in the bosom of the comrades the so-called historical party with much influence in every aspect. Although he is the President of the Republic and President of Frelimo, he does not have the mastery of some comrades with strong influences and I recognize this. He can make promises to me in the context of the decentralization of the country, and in the pursuit of peace, but when he gets to the bosom of his party he can find barriers.
What failed to meet the President of the Republic here in Gorongosa?
The meeting failed due to organizational issues. Organizational because there are people who deal with our agendas, for example, where we can meet, when, at what time … there were failures on the part of the people who have been dealing with our telephone contacts and meetings. In fact, the President was here in Gorongosa, specifically in the Gorongosa National Park. He called me and said he was waiting for me in the park … I said: but … President, I’m waiting for you here in Santungira … where the Police General Commander had already arrived!
We concluded that there was some flaw in the protocol and talked on the phone. We revisited our agendas, including decentralization and military matters. One of the conclusions of this conversation is that there are guarantees that the document on decentralization will come within 30 days in the RA. The document in question will be discussed and approved in March of next year to allow the President, in announcing the holding of the presidential, legislative and provincial elections of 2019, to have the instrument in the hands of the election of governors.
However, I will not fail to mention that there are very influential forces within the Frelimo party and the Government that are not interested in seeing these processes finalized. The important thing is that there is consensus. We at Renamo are very pleased because we have achieved a historic achievement … An effective decentralization. It was unthinkable in this country to talk about provincial elections.
In January, the midterm election will take place in Nampula. What is your expectation?
I would not like to campaign in this way. But I know Nampula well and I have lots of friends there. I know what the Nampulans think, especially after Amurane’s death. They want to know who killed their son … was it the MDM? … was it Frelimo? … the two are being held accountable. So neither Frelimo nor MDM will get votes in Nampula. We will have a majority.
Will you campaign in Nampula?
Unfortunately not. I’m still here on the Gorongosa mountain range. But through teleconferences, I will be permanently connected to the Municipality of Nampula.
Still on authorities, the Government claims that at the moment there are no conditions for the creation of new authorities. But there are those who argue that the Frelimo government is afraid to create new authorities because it is aware that it will be defeated. What’s your opinion?
That’s exactly it. The answer to this question is in the question. Frelimo fears, in fact, that given its unpopularity, it has been defeated in other authorities to be created. The Government cannot claim that there are no conditions to create new authorities because the country is poor. In fact, decentralization is part of the development of a society because it makes it more robust. It is a political strategy of Frelimo to continue in power. In 2018 and 2019 all this will end because we will conquer the power and open spaces for the creation of new authorities. It is necessary for youth and opposition parties to join forces in overthrowing Frelimo to build a truly democratic nation.
On one of the days of the last session of the Republic Assembly, everything indicated that Renamo would support the election of the Ombudsman proposed by Frelimo. At the last minute there was a turnaround. What happened?
We never revealed that Renamo would support the Frelimo candidate. It would be a betrayal to the Mozambican people for Renamo to vote for a Frelimo candidate to be the Ombudsman, a figure in which he works to defend the interests of Frelimo to the detriment of more than 25 million Mozambicans, it would be the end of Renamo. What happened is Renamo, knowing the need for two-thirds for an Ombudsman election, a shingle very far away from Renamo, we decided not to have any candidate available, but we opened spaces for possible negotiations with candidates from other parties. At no point do we guarantee that we would support the Frelimo candidate.
Renamo has recently been surveying its members. What dictated this survey?
We continue to do. We need to know how many we are and where we are. We need to know what our strength is in young people, in women, in academics, in short, in Mozambicans in general. To our surprise, the preliminary data indicate that in recent times, especially after the announcement of the truce here, millions of Mozambicans have joined Renamo, both in the fields as well as in the cities. The data are being computerized by the party’s General Secretariat for the creation of database.
In 2019 we will have general elections. Will you run?
I do not know. I’m not a regulus. I am a politician elected in the congresses. If the party thinks I’m still useful, I’ll run. Remember that I never missed the elections. I’ve always been robbed and Renamo knows it. I consider myself the President of the Republic since 1994. What I have already done for this country and my party, without wanting to boast, I feel that I am above a President of the Republic. So if my party ever bets on me again as a candidate, I will move on. If Renamo concludes that I should rest, then I will go to retirement.
The President of the Republic has recently made some changes in the Government. Let’s talk about them, focusing on the military and police. How do you analyze these scrambles?
I’m not just going to talk about the scrambles in the Defense and the Police. I will speak in general … These exonerations in the Mozambican Government, which are done every six months, frighten me. I think they are made by emotion. A leader should study the background of the people to whom he entrusts a position. You must put someone in charge of a direction to satisfy the community. Either there is a lack of coordination in Frelimo or there are serious internal problems. For example, about a year ago a lady was placed in a key sector for the country’s development, I am talking about Mineral Resources and Energy, a lady who knew little or nothing about the sector. There were criticisms from all sides. My brother Nyusi came out in her defense, and she was kept in power. But now she has been exonerated. Appointments cannot be based on cronyism or favoritism. You have to study people.
What worries me the most is the appointment of my cousin Pacheco to the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. I know Pacheco … He has a negative image. Talking about Pacheco nauseates anyone in this country. Everyone knows what he did when he was governor in Cabo Delgado, in matters related to wood. When he was exonerated, everyone clapped. But taking a person as burnt and dirty as Pacheco and putting him in diplomacy is unfortunate … it is the end of Frelimo.
You have been in the Gorongosa mountain range since October 2015. From time to time your physical appearance seemed to indicate some weakness. Are you in good health?
I am! Physically, I’m fine. I have had headaches and malaria with some frequency, given the adverse conditions in which we live. Apart from these two diseases, I’m fine. I eat well daily, I have access to everything that is consumed in the cities. I am sorry that I am always away from my family. You know that my first daughter, Isabel, passed away last month and, unfortunately, I could not even bury her. It was dramatic. In short, it is the price of the struggle for democracy.
The year is ending, what message would you like to give the Mozambicans?
I want to encourage them to join me in the struggle for better living. I know that many Mozambicans will not be able to buy even a chicken or a pound of meat in this festive season; who will not be able to buy a refreshment for their children. So let us all together invest for the welfare of this country. Our dignity as people and as human beings must be maintained. One day our economic and social conditions will be improved. Happy holidays to all Mozambicans!Source: O País
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