War as election strategy unacceptable

 

The Mozambican elections have come and gone. The Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) and its presidential candidate Filipe Nyusi won the elections although with a reduction in votes from the previous elections in 2009.  

Frelimo and Nyusi’s loss of votes resulted in gains for the Mozambican National Resistance Movement (Renamo) led by former rebel Afonso Dhlakama.

According to the final results of the elections, Nyusi garnered 57 percent of the vote, which is however down from the 75 percent achieved by his predecessor President Armando Guebuza in 2009. His nearest rival Dhlakama of Renamo won 37 percent of the vote, up from 16 percent in 2009. The Frelimo party’s vote was also down and the former liberation movement will have fewer seats in parliament while Dhlakama’s Renamo party will have more than previously. Frelimo won 144 seats in Parliament, which was 47 seats down than in 2009 while Renamo increased its seats to 89 from 51 in 2009.  

Some commentators have suggested that Dhlakama’s sabotage activities in the centre of the country over the past two years were a successful election ploy. In the 2009 elections Renamo and Dhlakama had performed dismally and it seemed the opposition party and its leader were doomed.

It lost ground not only to Frelimo but also to political upstart, the Movement for Democracy in Mozambique, a breakaway faction of Renamo. As is the norm in African politics when the opposition loses an election, Renamo cried foul alleging rigging and initially refused to recognise the election results.

The poor show forced Renamo to rethink its election strategy and five years later the party resorted to what it knows best – threats of war. 

Renamo launched a low level insurgency in central Mozambique and even announced that it would boycott the November 2013 municipal elections. Tensions were to characterise the run-up to last month’s elections until a new peace deal was reached between President Guebuza and Dhlakama on 5 September 2014, just a little more than a month before the elections. 

Renamo’s intransigence, which also caused discomfort in neighbouring Zimbabwe which relies on the Beira Port for trade, and the threat of more violence forced the Mozambican government to the negotiating table. 

The former rebel movement extracted several key concessions from the government. 

But what an unacceptable way to use as an election strategy. 

Such arm twisting belongs to the politics of the past and Renamo should be discouraged from resorting to this old trick.  

Following its success in using war as an election strategy, Renamo has intimated to escalate the friction between it and the Mozambican government in the post-election period. Analysts believe this might be a plot to secure a post-electoral negotiated settlement given Dhlakama’s movement has rejected the results of the just ended elections.

 After losing the elections, Renamo obviously thinks that it can use recent African mediation efforts in previous electoral disputes to force the Frelimo government for a negotiated settlement. 

Such kind of politics should have no place in Southern Africa and opposition parties must accept defeat and work on their policies to convince the electorate in future elections.

November 2014
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