Moza talks with Renamo hit snag
Maputo – The Mozambican government last Monday announced that it has unilaterally signed the minutes of the talks it has held with the country’s largest opposition political party, Renamo.
But government’s chief negotiator, Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, said Renamo had not signed the minutes even on points where consensus had been reached.
Pacheco stated that Renamo wants the two parties to produce a proposal for the revision of the electoral legislation that would be rubber stamped by the country’s parliament.
However, the government refused to accept this proposal as it considers it to be unconstitutional and in violation of the principle of separation of powers.
Pacheco added that “there is agreement that Renamo’s proposals are clear, relevant and pertinent, and it is a priority that they should be submitted to the parliament”.
But he warned that it is out of the question to order parliament to accept any proposal from these meetings.
The head of the Renamo delegation to the dialogue, Saimone Macuiana, gave the impression that he did not know that the unilateral signing of the minutes had taken place.
He said: “If the government did that it would be in violation of the terms of reference of the meetings that state that the minutes are adopted by the parties.
“The government has said that it agrees that the proposals are clear, opportune, pertinent and urgent, but still does not agree to adopt them.
“Renamo reiterates that the points of the electoral package to be taken to parliament should be adopted by both parties.”
The issue of electoral legislation is just one of four points to be discussed at the meetings.
However, Renamo has refused to move on to the other issues of defence and security, depoliticisation of the state, and economic questions, until the issue pertaining to electoral reform has been agreed.
The government has stated that the next round of talks should involve closing the proceedings up to now through the signing of the minutes, so that the two sides can move on to other business.
A slide back into the kind of all-out war that crippled the former Portuguese colony between 1975 and 1992 looks unlikely.
Recent raids in central Sofala province that killed 11 security personnel and three civilians came after Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama returned with his civil war comrades to the Gorongosa jungle base where they operated in the 1980s.
Renamo, which signed a peace pact in 1992 with its former socialist rival Frelimo, denied that it carried out a raid on an arms depot last month in which seven soldiers were killed.
Meanwhile, the national army on July 6, 2013, raided a Renamo military base at Matchele, 8 km from Muxungue, on a camp of about 53 huts. There were no casualties.
The base was set up by the same groups, which have been terrorising motorists along the national highway that links the southern and northern regions of Mozambique.
The Mozambican Police (PRM) said that the attack resulted in no fatality and no injuries.
António Pelembe, Head of Operations in the Police, said there was no casualty during the raid.
The official said there were 53 huts that housed an unspecified number of men. “We are chasing people who are out on the highway for armed robberies with a particular emphasis of the EN1, near Muxungue, Sofala”, he said.
A public threat by the ex-rebel group, Renamo, to paralyze central rail and road links has put the Frelimo government on alert and alarmed diplomats and investors.
President Armando Guebuza's government said it was taking the Renamo threat seriously but insisted it would keep the country's strategic transport corridors open.
Officials declined to detail specific measures taken to counter Renamo actions.
Major investors like Brazil's Vale, which is among companies that have been developing Mozambique's coal deposits and offshore gas fields and make use of the Sena railway line, has not made a public comment.