Dhlakama promises to come out of hiding

via Dhlakama promises to come out of hiding – The Zimbabwean 6.10.2015

Maputo, 5 Oct (AIM) – Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Mozambique’s former rebel movement Renamo, has promised that he will shortly leave his hiding place, somewhere in the bush of Gondola district, in the central province of Manica, and come to Maputo for talks with the government.

Interviewed by phone on Sunday by the independent television channel STV, Dhlakama declared “I am not in the bush to wage war, you can get that idea out of your heads”.

Dhlakama went into hiding immediately after the clash between the Renamo militia and the police on 25 September in which, according to the police, 20 of the Renamo gunmen were killed. The STV interview is the first time Dhlakama’s voice has been heard by the public since then.

“Soon I will be there (in Maputo)”, Dhlakama told the interviewer, “Let people hear my voice and know it is Dhlakama”.

He said he was not interested in taking revenge for the attacks on his motorcade. “If I wanted, Mozambique would already be burning”, he claimed. “But there’s no interest in this. I am not going to take revenge through war”.

Instead, he intended to wage “peaceful struggle, with speeches, rallies, dialogue and all”. He boasted “I shall remain a leader because Mozambique needs a man like Dhlakama”.

He claimed that contacts had already been made with the government through a working group which included the director of his office Augusto Mateus. That group was also talking to the Mozambican mediators, mostly religious figures, who had attended the long running dialogue between the government and Renamo, which Dhlakama had abruptly terminated in August.

Dhlakama said that alleged movements of government forces in Gondola and the Manica provincial capital, Chimoio, were delaying his departure. “Obviously, I have to be prudent”, he said. “I’m a human being. I have a family. I have children”.

When he left his hiding place, he wanted to be accompanied by mediators and by journalists. Once in Maputo, he would be ready to resume dialogue “but dialogue about concrete things, not the kind of dialogue at the Joaquim Chissano Conference Centre”.

He was referring to the venue in Maputo for most of the 114 sessions of the Government-Renamo dialogue that had begun in April 2013. If that dialogue did not discuss “concrete things”, the fault was exclusively Renamo’s since it was Renamo that requested the dialogue, and Renamo that proposed the agenda.

Dhlakama told STV “I want to leave a simple message – there is no war in Mozambique”. But there was no peace either since, in Dhlakama’s view, “peace does not only mean that the guns fall silent”. He claimed that phenomena such as unemployment, social exclusion and injustice meant there was no peace.

“The message us tranquility”, he insisted. “Better days will come. Dhlakama will continue to work peacefully”.

Completely missing from this interview were Dhlakama’s usual threats. He made no mention of his demand to take over six of the country’s provinces, and no longer threatened to expel provincial governors and district administrators, or to set up new military installations.