Government-Renamo commission meets for third time

Maputo (AIM) – The joint commission formed by the Mozambican government and the rebel movement Renamo met for the third time in Maputo on Monday and claimed, once again, that advances are being made in preparing a face-to-face meeting between President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, but without giving any details.

Source: Government-Renamo commission meets for third time – The Zimbabwean 3/6/2016

Speaking for the government side, former security minister Jacinto Veloso said the meeting “took place in a constructive and cordial atmosphere, and we confirm advances for the agenda of the President of the Republic and the Renamo leader”.

Veloso said the joint commission is working as quickly as possible to ensure that Nyusi and Dhlakama do indeed meet.

The joint commission met for about five hours, but neither side revealed to reporters any details of the matters discussed, despite a promise made at the previous meeting (on Monday) that the issues to be included on the agenda would be made public.

Veloso said the joint commission will meet again next Monday.

Renamo is expert at delaying tactics, as was shown in the previous dialogue with the government, held between April 2013 and August 2015, when Dhlakama unilaterally broke it off.  114 sessions of this dialogue were held, and the only achievement of note was a rewriting of the electoral legislation incorporating all of Renamo’s main demands (which did not stop Renamo from declaring the 2014 general elections as fraudulent, when it lost them).

The National Defence and Security Council (CNDS), of which Veloso is a member, met earlier in the day, under Nyusi’s chairmanship, and urged Renamo to halt all its armed attacks “in order to normalise the situation of public order, security and tranquillity, and allow the free circulation of people and goods”.

The CNDS noted that the Renamo attacks, against both civilian targets, and members of the defence and security forces, were causing loss of life and heavy material damage, and urged the joint commission to take speedy measures to ensure that the face-to-face meeting between Nyusi and Dhlakama does indeed take place.

As for the alleged existence of a mass grave in Gorongosa district, in the central province of Sofala, the CNDS urged the relevant authorities to continue their investigations until the matter is cleared up.

Dhlakama himself, speaking from his bush headquarters in a telephone press conference on Wednesday, finally dropped his boast that he would seize power by force in six northern and central provinces (Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa).

He had repeatedly declared that he would “govern by force” in those provinces as from March. But March has come and gone, and the only places ruled by Renamo are a few bush camps set up by its illegal militia.

So Dhlakama backtracked, and told reporters that he had changed his mind because, if Renamo did seize power, it would be “misunderstood”. Instead he intended to negotiate with the government and convince it of the need to hand the six provinces over to Renamo and, if necessary, to amend the country’s constitution to allow what he called “provincial autonomy”.

He claimed this was not a retreat, because he had never abandoned his demand for autonomous provincial governance.

Dhlakama claimed that his base, in the Satunjira area of Gorongosa, was under government attack, and that the government forces were supported by “Angolans, Zimbabweans and Tanzanians” and even by “Chinese instructors”. As usual the Renamo leader saw no need to present any evidence for this fantastic list.