Nyusi meets Dhlakama in Gorongosa

Maputo – Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Saturday met Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Renamo, the main opposition party in the country.

Dhlakama has not been seen in public since he went into hiding at the end of 2015. It is widely believed that he is currently living in a Renamo military base in Gorongosa.

A press release from the President’s office says that the meeting took place in Gorongosa, in central province of Sofala.

“The two leaders discussed and agreed on the next steps of peace process, which they hope will be completed by the end of the year,”reads the document.

The document adds: “They agreed that they would continue their dialogue and closely monitor the work of the two committees, with a view to a new meeting soon to prepare the final steps.”

The meeting between the Mozambican president and the leader of Renamo comes at a time when two committees set up earlier this year to deal with issues of decentralisation and military affairs are still working to reach consensus.

Those groups had reached consensus on various questions, including the agenda for their work, and the mechanism to monitor and verify the current truce.

The key Renamo demand on decentralisation is that provincial governors should be elected rather than appointed by the president.

This principle seems to be widely accepted, but it will need a constitutional amendment, and that in turn can only be passed with a two thirds majority in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.

To achieve the two thirds, the parliamentary groups of the ruling Frelimo party and of Renamo must agree on the text of the amendment.

Meanwhile,  Nyusi on Saturday declared that there was no need for a special treatment for Dhlakama.

Nyusi was answering a question on whether the government would make special provisions for Dhlakama and his armed men to be counted for the fourth population and housing census currently under way across the country. The census began on 1 August and will finish on 15 August.

Nyusi explained that the population census should not be politicized.

“I don’t know if a special treatment is needed for the leader of Renamo.

He is a citizen. He will be counted wherever he is. When the census takers arrive in his place and meet him he will be counted,” explained Nyusi.

He was speaking at a press conference at the administrative post of Inchope, Gondola district, at the end of his three-day working visit to the central province of Manica.

“Therefore, he doesn’t need a special treatment. Do not politicise the process. The census is taking place across the country. There have never been such problems. Do not look for trouble, ” he added.

Nyusi said that “the government would only intervene should there be any access problems to the area where he (Dhlakama) and other citizens are living, either due to lack of transport or access routes, in order to facilitate the census takers to reach there.

But there is no problem so far”.

As for the population and housing census itself, Nyusi said that preliminary evaluation of the first three days shows that there have been few problems here and there, but nothing serious.

“Let’s all work for the census to take place and we will ask you to raise awareness of the population, because we need it,” urged the president.

According to the National Statistics Institute (INE), the full census, including all stages has been budgeted at US$79 million and involves about 120,000 people.

The World Bank has allocated US$25 million, while the Mozambican government has provided US$10 million. Other contributors are Sweden, Italy, and Indonesia.

The World Bank also donated 131 vehicles, 750 motorcycles and 10 thousand bicycles to the INE which will be distributed throughout all 11 Mozambican provinces.

Since independence, Mozambique has carried out three population censuses – in 1980, 1997 and 2007.

Based on projections from the 2007 census, the INE estimates the current population is 26.4 million.

The country is still overwhelmingly rural, with 17.9 million people living in the countryside, and 8.5 million living in urban areas. – AIM.

August 2017
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