No advance in government-Renamo dialogue

via No advance in government-Renamo dialogue – The Zimbabwean 25 March 2015

Yet another round – the 99th – in the dialogue between the Mozambican government and the former rebel movement Renamo ended in failure on Monday, with no progress on either of the agenda points currently under discussion, namely the separation of political parties from the state, and defence and security issues.

Renamo insists that the joint document on separating parties from the state should ban politicians from undertaking political work. It wants to extend the ban on party political activities in the state to the President of the Republic and all the figures whom he appoints.

This was a last minute addition to the document. At the beginning of March, it seemed that consensus had been reached and a document of principles could be signed, winding up this point of the agenda. But then, at the 2 March meeting, Renamo threw its spanner in the works – demanding that people whose jobs are eminently political could not engage in politics.

The government found the demand absurd and the dialogue has ground to a halt over the issue – as Renamo no doubt intended.

At the press conference following the Monday meeting, the head of the government delegation, Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, said it made no sense to ban the President of the Republic from political party activities, since he was elected as a representative of a political party.

“We explained to Renamo that a driver or an accountant could be covered by the ban on political activities, with the freedom to engage in politics outside of work – but the ban cannot extend to the Head of State, since he represents a party, and was elected in the name of this party which gave hope to Mozambicans”, said Pacheco.

Renamo is not budging an inch. The head of the Renamo delegation, Saimone Macuiana, said the Renamo demand was “just”. Renamo wanted a total ban on political activities by state officials, up to and including the President, between 07.30 and 15.30.

“That’s what we defend and we shall continue to defend it”, he insisted.

As for defence and security, a new snag appeared with the international team of monitors observing the cessation of hostilities between government and Renamo forces (known by the acronym EMOCHM). After months of enforced idleness, since Renamo has refused to cooperate in disarming its militia, half the countries involved in EMOCHM have withdrawn their officers – including Botswana, which had supplied a brigadier who was leading the entire team. The government and Renamo military experts proposed that the Botswanan be replaced by a Zimbabwean colonel, now the highest ranking foreigner in EMOCHM.

This should have been a simple matter – but the Renamo delegation claimed it needed to hold consultations before it could agree. “We believe that such consultations could have been held today, even before the end of this meeting”, said Pacheco.

But once again Renamo dragged its feet and so, by the end of the meeting, the leadership of EMOCHM was still in doubt.

As for the recruitment of members of the Renamo militia into the armed forces (FADM) and the police, Renamo is insisting that an “integration fund” be set up to pay them.

Pacheco said no such fund was needed, since any Mozambican citizen recruited into the army or the police, will be receiving a monthly wage packet.

Much more serious was Renamo’s continued demand for a share-out of senior military and police positions. Renamo wanted promotions for its members who were already in the armed forces (arising from the formation of the FADM out of volunteers from the old government army, the FAM/FPLM, and from Renamo in 1994), and “parity” with the government in positions of leadership and command.

Once again Pacheco pointed to the contradiction between demanding an end to party political activities inside the state, but forming the top military command on an explicitly party political basis.

As for the alleged discontent of FADM officers who were once Renamo members, Pacheco demanded that Renamo present specific examples so that the cases can be solved. The government had spoken with the FADM leadership, he said, and their response was “you must help us identify the people who are suffering these injustices, and so Renamo should present us with lists”.

Renamo seems allergic to lists. For about six months the government has been requesting a list of the gunmen whom Renamo wants to incorporate into the FADM and the police, and Renamo has been refusing to provide one. The result is that not a single member of the Renamo militia has been disarmed or demobilized.

At the end of the meeting, Pacheco admitted to reports “the dialogue has run aground and it needs high tide to lift it”.