Maputo — The chairperson of the Forum of Demobilised Soldiers, Herminio do Santos, has implicitly threatened to disrupt the municipal elections scheduled for 20 November, unless Mozambican President Armando Guebuza agrees to a meeting with the Forum.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, dos Santos, insisted that the meeting with Guebuza must take place before the elections, 'so that we veterans can be part of this process'.
The demand makes no sense since veterans have exactly the same voting rights as any other Mozambican citizens over the age of 18. Veterans who registered as voters during the May-July voter registration are entitled to vote. Those who did not register cannot cast votes.
Dos Santos also reiterated the forum's longstanding demand for a minimum pension for demobilised soldiers of 20,000 meticais (about 668 US dollars) a month. This is several times higher than any of the current statutory minimum monthly wages, let alone the wages paid to serving soldiers.
Dos Santos did not make clear what the Forum will do if Guebuza refuses to meet with its leadership before the elections. In the past, the forum has held several demonstrations in central Maputo in unsuccessful pursuit of its pension claims.
Dos Santos also claimed that an impossible total of 93,575 demobilised soldiers are affiliated to the Forum. In reality, the Forum is just one of several organisations claiming to represent former soldiers. Several of the other organisations have dissociated themselves from the Forum's tactics, and prefer to work with the Ministry of Veterans' Affairs, in order to secure the rights of demobilised soldiers.