Mozambique’s electoral commission should do the right thing - ISS Today
Former Renamo ‘number two’ Raúl Domingos warns against scorning Mariano Nhongo, leader of the party’s self-proclaimed ‘military junta’. “Guerrillas, when motivated, are hard to fight,” he says.
One should not take an arrogant stance and despise Mariano Nhongo, the leader of the largest opposition party’s self-proclaimed ‘military junt'”. So says Raúl Domingos, former Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) Number Two, in an interview with DW Africa.
Nhongo leads a group of dissident guerrillas challenging the authority of Renamo leader Ossufo Momade and threatening to resort to arms. Domingos warns that he is a “capable, competent, bush-savvy” guerrilla who should not be ignored because “Guerrillas, when motivated, are hard to fight.”
Domingos further says the international community is also partly to blame for the country not achieving effective peace, because they are “committed to the ruling party” – the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) – because of the country’s known gas reserves.
DW Africa: What will be the impact of the opposition’s defeat in the recent elections?
Raúl Domingos (RD): Well, first of all I wouldn’t ask the question [in terms] of defeat, since there was fraud, and fraudulent elections do not count.
For me, the fraud starts with voter registration. The opposition made a mistake competing in these already fraudulent elections. From the voter registration point of view, the highpoint of fraud was Gaza. A province that had 13 seats now has 22. Gaining nine seats means that Gaza’s electoral population has grown. But, according to the National Statistics Institute, this population growth corresponds to the year 2040. It is clear that, from the first, there was a blistering [increase in] numbers to justify the result they presented us.
DW Africa: Are the attacks in central Mozambique the result of this scenario?
RD: Post-election conflicts have always been the result of fraudulent elections. In 1999, Renamo had the majority in six provinces, but by the STAE’s arithmetic, we did not win. As a solution to these post-election conflicts, the possibility of decentralisation has been designed, creating conditions for those who win in a province to appoint the governor. From then on the fraud exercise was carried out with other counts, in which a qualified majority was obtained to allow the ruling party to continue in a loose manner. And that will mean continued political and military instability, because there are still armed men out there. The peace spoken of is a fictitious peace. True peace involves reconciliation and free, fair and transparent elections.
DW Africa: Is General Nhongo a danger to the country or not?
RD: Many people, either out of ignorance or mere contempt or arrogance, think that Nhongo is not capable of this or that. My experience leads me to say that guerrillas, when motivated, when they have implantation, are difficult to combat. The guerrilla has fuel to move around.
DW Africa: Do you know Mariano Nhongo well?
RD: I don’t know him. But from the information I have, I think he was a 14 year old in 1980. By now, he must be 52 years old. He grew up in the bush, became a commander. In the last conflict, from 2012 to 2014, he proved to be a good guerrilla. [Renamo] President Afonso Dlhakama [now deceased] entrusted him with high positions in the military hierarchy in that conflict. I know he is a capable, competent, knowledgeable military man, and it is a good idea not to disregard this knowledge, and to look into and resolve conflicting issues.
DW Africa: What does General Nhongo want, in your opinion?
RD: Unfortunately, I have no contact with him and I don’t know what his claims are. I know that when he appeared, he was claiming some issues that had to do with the DDR [Demilitarisation, Demobilisation and Reintegration] and the staff structure which had been dismantled by the president-elect.
DW Africa: What can be done to stop the junta launching attacks?
RD: You need to approach them and have a conversation with them.
DW Africa: What exactly is this conversation?
RD: Find out what their claims are, see what can be accommodated, and come to an understanding.
DW Africa: The truth is that the country has returned to attacks. What is the recipe for the country to have an effective peace?
RD: I call on the international community to achieve effective peace. Because if we are aware of what happened during the election campaign, we have seen that the international community is committed to the ruling party and is not looking at the country’s problems. It makes no sense that during the election campaign, the candidate of the ruling party [Frelimo] would be treated both as a candidate and as President of the Republic. In any part of the world, when there is an electoral campaign, the government is a caretaker government.
The international community, through the gas companies, was stopping the campaign to announce capital gains payments and other similar agreements. How can you close an agreement with a candidate knowing that you are in an election race?
Automatically, for the international community, the result was already known. I think that, in these elections, we played the elections game. We went to the elections for the Englishman to see – we went into the elections already knowing the result. The question is rather, why did we spend so many millions of dollars if we already knew the result?
DW Africa: How do you evaluate the peace agreements signed between the Mozambican government and Renamo?
RD: Nothing has happened to this day. There was that ceremony of 50 demobilised men of which only six handed over weapons. Where are the other guns? So all this was a spectacle to go to the [election] campaign with some news, which is the deal.
DW Africa: If you were in Renamo at this time, how would you deal with the disarmament and integration of the guerrillas?
RD: If I were there, I would surely have all the information that would allow me to act. But for now, we only have assumptions. As I am not there, I cannot offer solutions. You have to be there to know the situation and act accordingly.Source: Deutsche Welle