Maputo — The Mozambican government has set up a commission, headed by Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, to enter into a dialogue with the country's main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo.
The Council of Ministers (Cabinet) took this decision at an extraordinary meeting on Thursday, held to consider Renamo's request for a meeting.
Renamo has been demanding to speak with President Armando Guebuza or with senior government figures ever since the party's leader, Afonso Dhlakama, moved from his house in the northern city of Nampula to a bush camp in the central district of Gorongosa in mid-October.
Indeed, on 17 October, Dhlakama demanded that Guebuza meet him in Gorongosa within three days – an ultimatum which the president ignored.
Last week, the ruling Frelimo Party set up a commission formed by Afonso Meneses Camba, Manuela Mapungue, Yolanda Matsinhe e Renato Mazivila, to talk with Renamo. None of these four hold any senior position within Frelimo, and it was entirely predictable that Renamo would refuse to meet with them.
Renamo national spokesperson Fernando Mazanga also declared that Renamo would only agree to meet with a government delegation, not a Frelimo one.
In addition to Pacheco (who is also a member of the Frelimo Political Commission), the government delegation to the meeting with Renamo includes the Deputy Ministers of the Public Service and of Fisheries, respectively Abdurremane Lino de Almeida and Gabriel Muthisse.
Mazanga announced that the Renamo delegation to the talks will be led by the party's general secretary, Manuel Bissopo, and also includes Eduardo Namburete (Renamo's candidate for Mayor of Maputo in the 2008 municipal elections), Meque Bras and Abdul Magid Ibraimo.
Announcing the government decision to reporters, the spokesperson for the Council of Ministers, Deputy Foreign Minister Henrique Banze, said the meeting will be held in Maputo and the government will inform Renamo of the time and date.
Although there has been some talk in the media of "renegotiating" the 1992 peace agreement, the government has made it clear that the purpose of any talks with Renamo is not to negotiate anything, but to hear what Renamo has to say and enter into a dialogue.