via Chissano insists on meeting between Nyusi and Dhlakama – The Zimbabwean 6 September 2015
Former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano has thrown his weight behind the calls for an urgent meeting between the current President, Filipe Nyusi, and Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the rebel movement Renamo.
Speaking on Thursday, at a Radio Mozambique seminar, Chissano urged the public to continue convincing Dhlakama to accept the invitation to a meeting issued by Nyusi last week.
“He (Dhlakama) demanded an agenda and an agenda was presented”, Chissano pointed out. Nyusi’s initial invitation simply asked Dhlakama to come to Maputo to discuss “matters of peace and development”.
When Dhlakama claimed this was “too vague”, and insisted on a specific agenda, Nyusi responded with a proposed agenda containing three points – analysis of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, signed on 5 September 2014, analysis of the dialogue between the government and Renamo (now suspended, on Dhlakama’s orders), and “miscellaneous”.
But for Chissano the agenda was not a problem. “The important thing is to hold the meeting and that it discusses everything”, he said. “They should clarify matters to each other, and take a decision. We want peace. We don’t want to be cannon fodder, for bullets either of Renamo or of the government”.
Points on the agenda could be discussed and changed during the meeting itself, Chissano added. “An agenda is a piece of paper which people produce to give some indication of how to carry out discussions”, he said. “But when you want an open discussion, looking for solutions, the agenda can be corrected during the discussion”.
People should stop thinking that this was a question of two enemies talking, he urged. “He (Dhlakama) calls me brother, and I call him brother. So it’s not a discussion between two enemies. It’s a family, and if the family is having a discussion, there’s no reason to say ‘’this is the agenda’’”.
He pointed out that, in the past, much of what Renamo brought to the discussion table had been accepted. “Even when this means moving the goalposts, this did not prevent the discussions taking place”. (The most striking example of this was the government’s capitulation in early 2014 to almost all Renamo’s demands for sweeping changes in the electoral legislation).
The key issue was preventing the loss of human life. Chissano recalled hearing Dhlakama say “it doesn’t matter if 20, 40 or 200 people die, that’s not important. What’s important is the objective”.
Chissano rejected this disregard for life. “We have to value the lives of each and every Mozambican”, he said. “And each Mozambican must do all in his power to ensure that nobody else dies”.
Chissano objected to Dhlakama’s description of the negotiations over the peace agreement, which the two men signed in October 1992, as “playing around”.
“I heard him say he played with Armando Guebuza (the chief government negotiator in the peace talks, and later Chissano’s successor as President), and that he played with me. I didn’t know that he was playing with me”, said Chissano. “I thought he was working seriously with me. I never thought about games”.
Hence today Dhlakama “should not meet with the President to play, but to work and to reflect”. Certainly in any meeting between Nyusi and Dhlakama “there will be contradiction, and perhaps they won’t have the same point of view”.
That should not be an obstacle, “because it is necessary to continue looking for consensus, since that’s what reconciliation is”. What was important, Chissano stressed, “is what unites us as Mozambicans, so that we minimize what divides us”.