3 December 2012

Mozambique: No Decisions From Government-Renamo Meeting

Photo: African Elections Project
File Photo: Former rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama.

Maputo — Monday’s meeting in Maputo between delegations from the Mozambican government and from the country’s largest opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, broke up without any agreement other than to meet again in a week’s time.

The Renamo General Secretary, Manuel Bissopo, who headed his party’s delegation, told reporters that Renamo had presented five concerns – namely defence and security, elections, exclusion from the benefits of economic growth, removal of party dominance over the state, and access to the public administration.

“These points were presented to the government and we expect that, within seven days, as from today, they make their position clear in order to continue the process that has now begun”, said Bissopo.

He regretted that that the government had not recognised the legitimacy of the questions raised by Renamo, but was optimistic that in the next meetings there would be a different and positive reaction.

Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, who headed the government team, said that all decisions taken by the government must be in strict observance of the Mozambican constitution. He pointed out that Renamo’s claims that the government is violating the 1992 peace agreement are groundless since all the matters covered by the agreement were incorporated into the Constitution.

He clearly found it difficult to discuss matters posed in the vague and general terms mentioned by Bissopo. He suggested that Renamo should make its complaints much more specific and stop talking in generalities. Only then could the government judge whether the matters concerned were within its jurisdiction, or should be dealt with by other state bodies.

“If there are specific questions, they should be much more precise about them so that the relevant bodies can, in the future, take decisions about the concrete matters that are of concern to Renamo”, Pacheco added.

Thus with Renamo’s claims of the “politicisation” of the state, or alleged merger between the Frelimo Party and the state, the government has asked for specific examples, based on evidence of exactly how and where this is supposed to be happening.

Access to the public administration, Pacheco said, involves a tendering process whereby candidates apply for jobs, and submit their qualifications.

Recruiting or rejecting the applicants had nothing to do with their political allegiances. The same was true of people applying for a career in the police or armed forces, Pacheco added.

As for the country’s elections, which Renamo alleges have always been fraudulent, Pacheco said that in reality they have been free, fair and transparent, and recognised as such by international observers.

Next week’s meeting is already in doubt, because Renamo has demanded a change of venue. Renamo wants the meeting to be held in one of the central provinces – Sofala, Manica, Tete or Zambezia, leaving the choice of province up to the government.

Pacheco, however, insisted that the meeting will be held in Maputo. The city is the capital, and it is where the headquarters are located, not only of the government, and of the country’s parliament, the Assembly of he Republic, but even of Renamo itself. Pacheco said it would make no sense to hold the meeting anywhere else.

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