Renamo reactivating political activity in Manica and Sofala

Maputo (AIM) – The Mozambican rebel movement Renamo has relaunched its political activity in the central provinces of Sofala and Manica, with formal visits by Renamo delegations, including Renamo parliamentarians, to the provincial governors, Helena Taipo and Alberto Mondlane.

Source: Renamo reactivating political activity in Manica and Sofala – The Zimbabwean 09.02.2017

Judging by the footage of these meetings shown on Tuesday by the independent television station, STV, they took place in a cordial atmosphere, with the provincial governments guaranteeing that Renamo can undertake peaceful political activity unhindered throughout the provinces.

These meetings are the latest fruits of the Renamo truce that took effect on 27 December. Since that date, there have been no further Renamo ambushes on the country’s roads, and no clashes between Renamo gunmen and members of the defence and security forces.

Renamo parliamentary deputy Manuel Pereira, who headed the delegation that met with Helena Taipo, told reporters that his party’s political activities in Sofala will resume this week. He said he had received security guarantees from the Sofala provincial government.

Thus local Renamo offices that had shut down during the peak of hostilities will reopen, and Renamo officials who had gone into hiding are being urged to resume their activities.

Pereira said his delegation will now relaunch Renamo political work in Dondo and Nhamatanda districts, following this up with a mass rally in the densely populated Beira neighbourhood of Munhava. At these activities, the Renamo Sofala provincial political delegate, Albano Bulaunde, will be presented to the public. Bulaunde has been out of circulation for months: he had gone into hiding for fear of what Renamo calls “death squads”.

Bulande had claimed his name was on a list of people to be eliminated by the “death squads”. So he locked up the Renamo provincial office in Beira, and all the smaller offices in Beira neighbourhoods, and made himself scarce. Pereira said that Bulaunde and the entire Renamo machinery in Sofala are now working again.

Taipo told reporters that, since the declaration of the truce, ten schools shut down last year because of Renamo military activities have now reopened, and roads that had been obstructed have been cleared.

Provincial government spokesperson Helcio Canda confirmed that the government has given the Renamo Sofala political delegation security guarantees, so that Renamo is free to work in any corner of the province.

The next step in this apparent normalization will be the reappearance in public of Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, who is still living in a military base in the Sofala district of Gorongosa. Wednesday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax” suggests that Renamo wants its leader to reappear as soon as possible, and certainly no later than April. He is regarded as Renamo’s trump card for the municipal elections scheduled for late 2018.

Outstanding problems are to be settled by two working groups appointed by President Filipe Nyusi and by Dhlakama on Monday. One group will deal with decentralization, and the other with military issues.

“Decentralisation” has become shorthand for Renamo’s demand that it be allowed to govern the six provinces where it claims, untruthfully, to have won the 2014 general elections. Currently, provincial governors are appointed by the President of the Republic. Changing this system, so that the governors are elected, either directly or by the provincial assemblies, would require a constitutional amendment.

The key military issue is to dismantle and disarm Renamo’s illicit militia. This will involve incorporating some of the Renamo gunmen into the armed forces (FADM) and the police.

Renamo wants constitutional amendments and changes to the legislation concerning provincial governments to be deposited in the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, in time for them to be debated early in the forthcoming parliamentary sitting, due to begin in late February.