Mozambique: Ruling Party Dismisses Opposition Demands

Maputo — The General Secretary of Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo Party, Filipe Paunde, on Friday dismissed the recent demands made by Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the country’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, as “unfounded and inconsistent”.

Dhlakama moved from his home in the northern city of Nampula to a base in the central district of Gorongosa in mid-October, where he has been making belligerent noises, and threatening “to divide the country”, if the government does not give way to his demands.

Earlier this month, three rounds of talks were held between delegations from the government, headed by Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, and from Renamo, headed by the party’s general secretary Manuel Bissopo. The government was willing to continue talking, but Renamo declared that all peaceful means to find solutions to the points it had raised had been exhausted.

At a Maputo press conference on Friday, Paunde said that, as a signatory to the 1992 peace agreement that ended the war of destabilisation, Dhlakama should not be embarking on a path that might threatened the country’s development and scare off investors.

“In Maputo, and even in Nampula, the Renamo leader has had access to the President of the Republic (Armando Guebuza)”, said Paunde. “Last year he asked for a dialogue with Frelimo and that request was accepted. Late he requested dialogue with the government, and that too was accepted. All because we want peace and development”.

In the recent meetings, the Renamo allegation made sweeping claims about discrimination against Renamo members in access to jobs in the state apparatus, in economic opportunities, and in the armed forces. But when Pacheco asked for specific examples, the Renamo delegation was unable to provide them. Instead, it resorted to demands for the dissolution of the current government, and the creation of “a transitional government”.

Paunde said that 2012 had been a year of growth for Frelimo, which had recruited 267,828 new members. Frelimo membership had gown from 3,510,577 in 2011, to 3,778,405 today.

He put payment of party membership dues this year at 23,395,218 meticais (787,340 US dollars) – which is only 6.2 meticais per member. The challenge for 2013 was to step up collection of membership dues, he said.

The party members, Paunde said, are organised into 288,295 branches (compared with 269,975 branches in 2011). The branches are grouped into 11,192 circle committees (compared with 9,839 in 2011). During the year 21,294 Frelimo offices were built from branch up to district level.

Paunde said Frelimo had regarded as a key priority the ideological, technical and professional training of cadres in the party’s apparatus, and in the party’s affiliated social organisations – the Mozambican Women’s Organisation (OMM), the Mozambican Youth Organisation (OJM), and the Association of Veterans of the Liberation Struggle (ACLLN).

“We paid for 104 scholarships for higher education – 54 of them inside Mozambique and 50 abroad”, he added. “The beneficiaries were party cadres, veterans of the liberation war and their children”.

Frelimo had also mobilised its own members, community leaders and members of the local Consultative Councils, for literacy and adult education courses. Paunde said these covered 789,176 people in all the provinces.

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