Dhlakama is not God: Chissano
Maputo – Former President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique says Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama is “no God” and has no authority to demand that the country’s leadership come to meet him in the bush to hear his grievances.
Dhlakama, the former rebel leader who executed a 16-year civil war that left about one million people dead, has threatened to resuscitate the conflict if the government does not accede to a list of demands.
The demands include changes to the electoral laws, more of his former fighters to be integrated into the national armed forces, and a greater say in how oil and gas revenues are distributed.
To this end, he wants President Armando Guebuza to come to his remote Gorongosa base, where he is encamped with several hundred armed men, to negotiate terms.
But Former President Chissano, who signed the peace deal with Dhlakama in 1992, says the Renamo leader is being unreasonable.
“He is not a God … I think his decision is misplaced. If it is a party that wants to find solutions to problems in the country, it is good to discuss with other parties and, first, with the party in power.
“I'm not against a discussion with the President on issues that may be of interest also from the government. It is important that political parties discuss.
“Now, the government will not neglect the rest of society, because democracy is not just a political party. Much less a political opposition that wants to impose its will and this will (to) become the people's will,” the Former President said this past week.
“I do not know this kind of a political party that wants to dialogue with the government, requiring the government go to meet him in a district.
“I know of no country in this world where a political party goes to a corner of the country and then invites the government there, and especially invites the President.
“The sensible thing would be for Dhlakama to request an audience with the President; go to the Office of President of the Republic to sit and talk, as he did with me many times in the past, and say whatever. This is the sensible course.
“What authority does the Renamo leader have to call a Head of State to go to him? He is not a God.
“That would force me to say that Mr Dhlakama is an unconscious person. If he, in his unconsciousness, thinks of the people, I do not think he can do this barbarity.
“He himself has said many times that he is a man of peace, who wants peace and who depends on it, (and that) there will be no war.”
Dhlakama left his home in the northern province of Nampula last month and led an estimated 800 armed Renamo men to Casa Banana at the foot of Mount Gorongosa.
This was one of Renamo’s bases during the civil war.
Two ultimatums for President Guebuza to come to Gorongosa have lapsed without any flare-up of hostilities. Renamo has refused to be party to a commission established by Frelimo to discuss the concners.
The four-member commission, formed last week, consists of Afonso Meneses Camba, Manuela Mapungue, Yolanda Matsinhe and Renato Mazivila. They are not members of the Frelimo leadership, and do not sit on the party’s Central Committee.
Frelimo said the party had always prioritised dialogue to preserve national unity and peace. The party has been meeting representatives of other formations to thrash out any disagreements.
But Renamo spokesperson, Fernando Mazanga, said they were not interested in negotiating Frelimo and would onlu talk to “serious people” from the government.
He said Renamo had set up its own team of negotiators, headed by the party’s general secretary, Manuel Bissopo.
The civil war raged from 1977 to 1992, ending with the signing of the Rome Peace Accords.
In terms of the agreement, political leaders were to share government posts.
The country was to establish a 30 000-strong Armed Forces for the Defence of Mozambique (FADM), with numbers being equally divided between Frelimo and Renamo.
However, when the new army was formed in 1994, it had less than 12 000 members with observers attributing the low total to war fatigue.
The integration process was stopped in mid-1994 when attempts to forcibly conscript ex-combatants led to mutinies at assembly points.
Frelimo has gone on to win all elections since 1992.