Maputo — Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Mozambique's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, has urged young members of his party to prepare to take over the Renamo leadership, reports Friday's issue of the independent daily "O Pais".
At the opening of a meeting of the Renamo National Council on Thursday, in the northern city of Nampula, Dhlakama recalled that he had become leader of Renamo when he was just 23 years old (this was in 1979, after the death of the first commander of Renamo, the Rhodesian agent Andre Matsangaissa).
"We have young people who need to look at Renamo with perspectives of what this party could be in 30 years time", he said. "What were I and my colleague Andre Matsangaissa in 1977 (the year of Renamo's creation in Ian Smith's Rhodesia)? We were intelligent youths with a vision for the future. That's why I led Renamo when I was 23".
"Young people should know that they are not in Renamo just to make up the numbers, or to claim 20 per cent of the parliamentary seats", he said. "They have to have perspectives for the future and prepare to take over the leadership of the party".
Dhlakama claimed that the meeting will take major political decisions, which will allow a "revolution" in Mozambique, leading to "effective democracy and good governance".
For much of 2011 Dhlakama was promising "revolution", and even boasted that the ruling Frelimo Party would be driven out of power before Xmas. And ever since he lost the October 2009 presidential election, Dhlakama has been promising nationwide demonstrations. But to date there have been no demonstrations, much less any revolution.
Dhlakama told the delegates that he would only announce the strategy for the revolution after the press had left the room and the meeting had gone into closed session.
He added that the meeting will discuss measures (either punitive or reconciliatory) to be taken towards those Renamo deputies who took their seats in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, in January 2010, in defiance of Dhlakama's orders to stage a boycott.
On the first day of the first sitting of the new parliament, on 12 January 2010, 16 of the 51 Renamo deputies elected the previous October took their seats, most of them from the central province of Zambezia. They included senior figures in Renamo, such as the head of the Renamo elections office, Luis Gouveia, a former Renamo general secretary, Viana Magalhaes, and the former spokesperson for the parliamentary group, Jose Manteigas.
For weeks Dhlakama had been insisting that no Renamo deputies would take their seats, in protest against the election results, which he regarded as fraudulent. The fact that almost a third of the Renamo group defied him was a serious blow to his credibility.
The rest of the Renamo parliamentary group abandoned their boycott later in January. Renamo filled its share of the seats on the Assembly's governing board, the Standing Commission, and on the eight working commissions.
Even the Renamo General Secretary, Ossufo Momade, took his seat and told the independent newsheet "Mediafax" that he had done so in defiance of Dhlakama's wishes.
The National Council will also discuss Renamo strategy for the forthcoming municipal elections (scheduled for 2013) and the next presidential and parliamentary elections (due in October 2014).
"O Pais" reports that the Renamo Nampula provincial delegate, Lucia Afate, made a clear criticism of Renamo's decision to boycott the recent municipal by-elections (in the cities of Quelimane, Pemba, Cuamba and Inhambane), and received a round of applause from the delegates.
The Renamo boycott meant that in the four mayoral by-elections the only serious opposition to Frelimo came from the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM). Renamo voters clearly transferred their allegiance to the MDM, thus ensuring that the MDM candidate, Manuel de Araujo, become mayor of Quelimane, and sparking off speculation that the MDM may be poised to replace Renamo as the main opposition force.