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The situation of Ossufo Momade, leader of Mozambique’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, is much more serious than admitted by Renamo politicians in Maputo.
According to a report in Friday’s issue of the independent weekly “Savana”, Momade is “besieged in Gorongosa”, the district where Renamo’s military headquarters is located.
The report, written by “Savana” correspondent Andre Catueira, who knows the area well, says that the Renamo military wing, loyal to Momade’s predecessor, Afonso Dhlakama, who died of diabetes in May 2018, has established a perimeter around the Gorongosa base, thus limiting Momade’s movements.
Catueira writes that, after returning from Chimoio, capital of Manica province, where he had another round of peace talks with President Filipe Nyusi, on 2 June, Momade was forced to hold long discussions with pro-Dhlakama guerrillas manning a road block at Vanduzi, controlling access to the Gorongosa headquarters.
One of the guerrillas present at the meeting told “Savana” a deal was struck – Momade was allowed to continue the journey to his headquarters on condition that he would resign as Renamo president by 10 July.
It was this agreement that forced Renamo to delay handing in Momade’s nomination as its candidate in the presidential elections. Renamo was to have delivered the nomination papers to the Constitutional Council last Tuesday, but that was postponed sine die. If the dissidents do force Momade’s resignation, then Renamo has no presidential candidate.
The current discontent in Renamo goes back at least as far as the Congress that elected Momade Renamo President in January. Immediately after that election, Momade had a lengthy meeting with the general staff of the Renamo military, the exact nature of which has never been revealed.
“Savana” published a photograph of Momade with several members of the General Staff – including Mariano Nyonga Chissinga, the man who told a Wednesday press conference that he would kill Momade, if he refused to reign.
On Thursday, the Renamo official spokesperson, Jose Manteigas, dismissed Chissinga as “a deserter”. But he clearly had not “deserted” by the time of the January Congress.
Also visible in the photo is Col Josefa de Sousa, the then head of Renamo Military Intelligence, whose execution was allegedly ordered by Momade. After Momade’s election, it was Sousa who warned Momade that he could not change a line in the agreements reached between Dhlakama and Nyusi.
The tensions within Renamo increased, “Savana” says, when Momade appointed new Renamo provincial delegates (in Sofala, Manica, Tete, Gaza and Cabo Delgado), rejecting calls for the delegates to be elected. He also transferred seven senior officers from Gorongosa to bases in Manica and Tete.
The discontent rose to such a point that the Renamo dissidents set up five road blocks on the road to Momade’s base.
This formed the background to Chissinga’s Wednesday press conference with its threat to assassinate Momade, if he does not relinquish his office.
In addition to Sousa, the dissidents claim that Momade ordered the execution of three brigadiers. Momade has an easy response to these accusations – he could produce Sousa and the others alive and let them be interviewed by the press. The fact that he has not done so is a clear indication that the claims by the dissidents may be true.Source: AIM