via RENAMO censure motion defeated – The Zimbabwean 20.11.2015
The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Thursday defeated a motion of censure moved by the former rebel movement Renamo against the response given by the government to questions it had raised at the start of the month.
Renamo was clearly still smarting from the tough line taken by Interior Minister Jaime Monteiro on 4 November, when he insisted that the government will disarm Renamo’s illegal militia.
Monteiro was responding to a question from the Renamo parliamentary group, which accused the government of attempting to murder Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, and asked “does the government think it is legally, morally and politically justified to resort to the defence and security forces for actions which seek to assassinate the Renamo leader, while at the same time expressing a will to hold a dialogue with Renamo?”
Monteiro categorically denied that the government intended to murder Dhlakama, but stressed that the defence forces will continue to collect weapons held illegally, including by Renamo. He promised that the collection of weapons will continue “until the last firearm in unauthorized hands is collected coercively or handed over voluntarily” to the defence and security forces, since “the possession and use of weapons of war is the exclusive prerogative of the State”.
In the motion of censure, read out by the spokesperson of the Renamo parliamentary group, Jose Carlos Cruz, Renamo once again claimed that the peace agreement it signed with the government in October 1994 allows it to keep an armed force.
He clearly believed that if a claim is repeated frequently enough, it becomes true. The peace agreement did indeed allow Renamo to keep armed bodyguards, but only for a limited period. The clause in question states: “Renamo shall be responsible for the immediate personal security of its topmost leaders. The Mozambican government shall grant police status to the Renamo members charged with guaranteeing that security”.
The agreement lists this as one of the “specific guarantees for the period between the ceasefire and the holding of elections”. The first multi-party general elections took place in October 1994, and since that date the Renamo militia has been illegal.
Cruz claimed that the government was resorting to “state terrorism” and intended to return to a one-party state. “Nobody in their right mind can accept the decision to disarm Renamo”, he declared.
He alleged that the two previous presidents, Joaquim Chissano and Armando Guebuza, “never said the Renamo security force was illegal”. Not only is this untrue, but Chissano has gone on record as saying that one of his biggest mistakes was failing to disarm Renamo.
In its written opinion on the Renamo censure motion, the Assembly’s Commission on Constitutional and Legal Affairs pointed out that armed political parties are banned under the Mozambican constitution which states “political parties are forbidden from advocating or resorting to armed violence to change the political and social order”.
It was the government’s duty, the Commission said, to guarantee public order and the security of citizens. This duty imposed the need “to remove completely threats to the security of the people and the state, which necessarily involves collecting firearms which are in illegitimate hands”.
Carrying that out was not “a declaration of war”, as Renamo claimed, but “the responsible acceptance of a Constitutional obligation”.
“The existence of Renamo armed men violates the constitutional order”, said the Commission. “The government’s action to disarm the Renamo men is a measure seeking to restore the constitutional order”.
In the brief debate that followed, Renamo continued to accuse Monteiro of lying, and demanded a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the two ambushes that the motorcade of Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama suffered in the central province of Manica on 12 and 25 September, and the disarming of Renamo’s bodyguards in Beira on 9 October. This impromptu demand, however, was not even included in the Renamo motion.
When the censure motion was put to a vote it was defeated by 125 to 77. In the vote the second opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), joined forces with Renamo, but the combined opposition was easily outnumbered by deputies of the ruling Frelimo Party.