Dhlakama threatens Nyusi over “Autonomy”

via Dhlakama threatens Nyusi over “Autonomy” – The Zimbabwean 24 February 2015

Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Mozambique’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, has warned of unspecified “consequences” for President Filipe Nyusi, if the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, does not accept Renamo’s demand for “autonomous provinces”.

Speaking at a meeting on Sunday with academics and Renamo supporters in the northern city of Nampula, Dhlakama claimed the Renamo proposal “has already been discussed with the President of the Republic”, and so the consequences of any refusal by the ruling Frelimo Party to pass the bill would fall on Nyusi’s shoulders.

“If they (the Frelimo leadership) don’t give orders directly to the Frelimo parliamentary group to facilitate the bill, there will be consequences”, threatened Dhlakama, cited by the independent television station, STV.

He added that he would not be opposed to the bill undergoing amendment during the parliamentary debates. If it were shown that one or another article was illegal or unconstitutional, “then I will accept and change it”, he said.

In fact, the only commitment given by Nyusi in his meeting with Dhlakama a fortnight ago was that the Renamo proposal for “autonomous provinces” would be debated in the correct forum, which is the Assembly. He did not commit Frelimo to supporting the bill – that would have been quite impossible since it had not yet been drafted, and Nyusi was not going to sign a blank cheque.

Over the past week, Frelimo brigades, headed by members of the party’s Political Commission, have been visiting the provinces, and have warned against any division of the country. Although neither they, nor anybody else, has yet seen the Renamo bill, they do not trust the talk of “autonomy”, fearing that it is just a fig leaf for cutting Mozambique in two.

They have good reason for fearing Renamo’s intentions since, less than a month ago, Dhlakama was openly declaring his intention to declare “within days” a separatist “Republic of Central and Northern Mozambique”.

The private press has reacted in horror to the forthright statements by Political Commission members against “autonomous provinces”, claiming that they are somehow undermining Nyusi’s dialogue with Dhlakama.

But Political Commission member Eneas Comiche, who is a former finance minister and mayor of Maputo, cited in Monday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”, said this was a complete misunderstanding, and that in reality there is no conflict between Nyusi and the Political Commission. Both thought the Renamo bill should go before parliament.

But Comiche added that Dhlakama’s comparison between this as yet unwritten bill and the Renamo amendments to the electoral legislation, passed by the Assembly in February 2014, was fundamentally flawed. Dhlakama wants the Frelimo group to rubber-stamp the “autonomy” bill, just as it rubber-stamped the amendments to the electoral laws.

This made no sense to Comiche because the amendments had been discussed for months in the long-running dialogue between the government and Renamo. Consensus was reached in the dialogue before the amendments were submitted to the Assembly.

No such procedure has been followed with regard to the call for “autonomous provinces”, which has never been put on the dialogue table. Far from being central to Renamo strategy, “autonomous provinces” are not even mentioned in the Renamo election manifesto put before the public prior to the 15 October general elections. Dhlakama only started talking about “autonomous provinces” in January, after Frelimo rejected his call for a “caretaker government”, which would have been a coalition between Frelimo and Renamo.

Veronica Macamo, the chairperson of the Assembly, and head of the Frelimo central brigade sent to Maputo province, refused to comment on the alleged differences between Nyusi and Political Commission members.

Speaking in the city of Matola, she said it would be up to the Assembly to decide on “autonomous provinces”.

“We shall analyse this question in accordance with what is envisaged in the law and in the Constitution”, she said. “I have no comment on what the other heads or members of the Frelimo central brigades have said”.