Maputo — The head of the Mozambican government team in the dialogue with the former rebel movement Renamo, Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco, has advised Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama to give ultimatums to his own men, rather than to the government.
On Monday, opening a meeting of the Renamo National Council, Dhlakama said that if the two delegations in the dialogue did not reach agreement within a week, then he would resolve the problem his own way, and even spoke of splitting the country in two.
On Tuesday, as he emerged from a meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), Pacheco told reporters that Dhlakama can give orders to his own members, but not to the government.
“I don't know this ultimatum, but if he has any orders to give, they should be to his own men”, declared Pacheco. In the latest rounds of dialogue, Pacheco has insisted that Renamo must disarm the illegal security force it keeps, over 20 years after the accord that ended the war of destabilization. So far Renamo shows no sign of disarming.
In his Monday speech to the National Council, Dhlakama said that, if there was no advance in the next meeting of the Renamo-Government dialogue, scheduled for 5 August, he would recall the Renamo delegation to his bush headquarters at Satunjira, in the central province of Sofala.
“We shall bring a full stop to this”, he said. “If Frelimo continues to play around, as it has done, then as from next week, it must show that it wants to negotiate. If Frelimo doesn't want to negotiate, we shall not kneel before it, we shall solve things without negotiations”.
Exactly what Dhlakama planned was far from clear, since he ruled out the use of force. “We will not shoot and there will be no demonstrations”, he said.
Ever since losing the 2009 Presidential elections, Dhlakama has threatened to hold nationwide demonstrations aimed at toppling the government. But to date, not a single Renamo demonstration has been held. Now Dhlakama seems to have abandoned this tactic altogether.
If he has ruled out talks with the government, demonstrations and the use of military force, it is not at all clear how Dhlakama intends to implement his boast that “I shall personally solve the problem”.
“They are playing with the people who expect every Monday to hear a consensus”, Dhlakama continued (the rounds of dialogue are normally held on Mondays).”The country does not belong to Pacheco or to (President Armando) Guebuza, and much less to Frelimo. Therefore, in the name of the people, I shall take measures to overcome this”.
Dhlakama once again insisted that, unless the electoral law is amended to suit Renamo, there will be no municipal elections this year. “If Frelimo insists on holding elections, I tell you that national unity is over”, he threatened. “Mozambique will be divided into two or three countries. We shall take Sofala and other provinces, and declare independence”.
Dhlakama even suggested that the Mozambican Xmas this year will be celebrated in two countries rather than one.
Dividing the country is a longstanding Renamo threat, but one which it has no power to put into effect.
Asked about these threats, the Deputy Interior Minister Jose Mandra, cited in Wednesday's issue of the independent daily “Mediafax”, said that by now the country was used to this kind of bombast from the Renamo leader.
Although such threats had to be taken into consideration, what was important was to ensure that units of the defence and security forces “are in position and prepared to ensure peace, stability and public security”.
“As for Monday's declarations, we have become used to them”, he said.
“There have always been threats, and what is key is that the state institutions should function and we are at our posts - fixed and mobile - to guarantee public order”.
Dhlakama could say whatever he liked, added Mandra, “but we have our principles. We have our commands and we shall act in accordance with those commands”.