Maputo (AIM) – Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Mozambique’s former rebel movement Renamo, has claimed that last week’s attempted assassination of the Renamo General Secretary, Manuel Bissopo, was an attempt to persuade Renamo to abandon its plans to seize power in six central and northern provinces as from March.
In a long interview published in the latest issue of the anti-government weekly “Canal de Mocambique”, Dhlakama declared “all this will finish”, and “Renamo will govern”. He claimed “I am organizing myself” to seize power in his target provinces (Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa).
Without offering any evidence, he claimed that the attack on Bissopo was the work of the ruling Frelimo Party, and returned to his past allegations that Frelimo has repeatedly tried to assassinate him. Since he was now in a bush hideout in the central district of Gorongosa, “where they know it will not be easy to catch me, they went to shoot against the person I left dealing with matters, who is the secretary-general”.
“I don’t have the slightest doubt”, he declared. “I am officially accusing the Frelimo regime. It was Frelimo that orchestrated the shooting”.
He went further and claimed that the men who wounded Bissopo and killed his bodyguard were the same men who assassinated constitutional lawyer Gilles Cistac in Maputo in March 2015. “They’re the same people. They left Maputo with this mission”, he said, without offering the slightest evidence for this sensational allegation.
“In March, we shall govern, as I have already announced”, Dhlakama said. “None of these atrocities will make us stop, because we know how to defend ourselves. We are organizing ourselves for this. We shall govern the six provinces”.
“Renamo will govern”, he insisted. “What may happen is that, if they try something, we shall restore order. Even now we are working with our informants.”
Dhlakama claimed “high placed” members of Frelimo are on his side, and were encouraging him to seize power. “A few days ago a well placed member of Frelimo told me ‘it’s time that you organized your members to go after the governors and administrators and take them out one by one, just as they are doing with Renamo members’”.
Even the normally pliant “Canal de Mocambique” interviewer found this hard to swallow. After all, Dhlakama has been living in a bush camp for the past two months, so he could only have spoken to “well placed” Frelimo members by phone, and the likelihood of anyone in Frelimo ringing Dhlakama up with suggestions that he order the murder of provincial governors and district administrators is remote.
So the interviewer wanted to know the name of this “well placed” person, and Dhlakama refused to tell him. But he said he turned down the suggestion “because I am a Christian and I don’t do these things. I am a human being and I give value to life, mine and those of other people. I believe in the right to life, because I believe in God”.
Dhlakama then embarked on an ethnic conspiracy theory, claiming that all the members of the riot police and the armed forces (FADM) involved in clashes with the Renamo militia are southerners. “All the soldiers from the centre and the north refuse to take part in plans to assassinate me”, he said.
“Maputo has become a colony which trains mercenaries and sends them to enslave the centre and the north”, he declared.
Even the “Canal de Mocambique” reporter could spot the flaw in this argument. The commander-in-chief of the defence and security forces, President Filipe Nyusi, happens to be a northerner, a member of the Makonde ethnic group, from Cabo Delgado province.
But Dhlakama has never allowed facts to overwhelm conspiracies. He claimed that Nyusi has no power. “Power is in the hands of individuals from the south”, he claimed, without bothering to cite a single name. “Nyusi is just there to cut ribbons. He was sent there to cover people’s eyes and make people believe that power has shifted to the north. But Nyusi himself knows it’s a lie”.
Hr went even further, alleging that unnamed figures in Frelimo would assassinate Nyusi, if he were to assert himself.
“If he tries to be independent, if he tries to escape from the hands of his masters, he will be killed”, Dhlakama predicted. He claimed that he would meet the same fate as another Makonde politician, Rafael Maguni, who died in 2004. The problem with this is that Maguni, a former director of Radio Mozambique and Minister of Information, was not assassinated, but died in a Maputo traffic accident. Such details, however, are never a problem for conspiracy theorists, and so Dhlakama claimed the accident was “orchestrated”.
Preparations for seizing power in the six provinces “are going well”, Dhlakama claimed. “I know some people say it’s just words, that Dhlakama makes announcements and then retreats. But this time it’s going to happen”.