Maputo — Mozambique’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo, has once again threatened to sabotage the municipal elections scheduled for this year.
According to a report in Friday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”, the Renamo political delegate in the central province of Manica, Sofrimento Matequenha, addressing a meeting of Renamo militants from all Manica districts in the provincial capital, Chimoio, declared not only that Renamo will boycott the municipal elections, but that it will not allow other parties to participate either.
Matequenha, who had just returned to Chimoio from the base set up by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama in the bush of Gorongosa district, in the neighbouring province of Sofala, claimed that sabotage of the elections was justified by the “lack of consensus” over the electoral legislation between Renamo and the government. He made it clear that he was transmitting instructions from Dhlakama.
Matequenha added that Renamo will hold “a peaceful demonstration” throughout the country, and that “if the Frelimo government tries to prevent our demonstrations by using the riot police, we shall respond in the same way, and our fire will not end before we have dislodged Frelimo from power”.
The threat of nationwide demonstrations is very familiar. Renamo has been making exactly the same threat since the day after its defeat in the October 2009 presidential and parliamentary elections. Over three years have passed and not a single Renamo demonstration has been held anywhere in the country.
Matquenha claimed that Renamo was under pressure from “the people” to hold demonstrations, “and our tolerance has already reached its expiry date. We have no more time to lose. We have not yet defined the dates, but it will certainly be soon”.
He claimed that Renamo had received requests from former guerrillas living in Manica to go and join Dhlakama in Gorongosa, “but we have told them they will not all go there, just the masterminds of guerrilla warfare. During our demonstrations, we will need them in all the districts – so we told them ‘wait in the districts, you will be useful when the time comes’”.
The Renamo guerrillas were demobilised almost 20 years ago – so that many of them are now too old to go back into anything resembling active military service.
A Renamo boycott of the elections will turn them into a straight contest between the ruling Frelimo party, and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), which looks set to displace Renamo as the country’s main opposition force.