Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza insisted on Wednesday that he is ready to talk to Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the country's main opposition party, Renamo, in order to ease the current political tensions.
Speaking at a rally in Chimoio, capital of the central province of Manica, at the end of his “Open and Inclusive Presidency” in that province, Guebuza told the crowd “we are ready for a dialogue with the Renamo leader, and we are continuing to make efforts so that there is no route other than dialogue”.
The President was responding to the appeal from the public at his rallies in Manica to find an immediate solution to the climate of insecurity, which has spiralled ever since Renamo gunmen started attacking civilian, police and military targets in April.
The whereabouts of Dhlakama are currently unknown. When the armed forces (FADM) occupied Dhlakama's bush headquarters at Satunjira, in Gorongosa district, he was no longer there. He is thought to have fled into the Gorongosa mountains.
At the Chimoio rally, one of those who spoke, Massada Ernesto, said “We don't want any more war in Mozambique.
Many people have built things with their sweat. We don't want them to come and destroy what we have built, and we don't want to flee into the bush”.
Bengala Jemusse said the public would support Guebuza so that he could solve the problem. “We are asking for an end to the conflict”, he said. “We know that you, Mr President, have power and you will manage to solve this. You have to say ‘that's enough!'”
He warned that the clashes will damage Mozambique's prestige, and that other countries “will be angry” with Mozambicans.
Responding to these concerns, Guebuza recognised that dialogue is the only solution. “That is why I have told the nation I am ready to receive Mr Dhlakama, and to speak with him, because I believe that by speaking, we can manage to understand that we need to work together”, he stressed.
“As one citizen said in this rally, Renamo is in parliament, it is the provincial assembly and in the Chimoio municipal assembly, and so it is participating in the development of the country”, he added.
He said that, to guarantee the consolidation of peace, the government is continuing to bank on political dialogue with Renamo.
However Renamo is now boycotting the dialogue sessions with a government delegation, which are normally held every Monday in Maputo's Joaquim Chissano Conference Centre. The head of the Renamo delegation, parliamentarian Saimone Macuiana, told reporters Renamo will not return to the dialogue until “national facilitators and international observers” are present.
The government sees no reason to involve third parties. It points out that this dialogue was requested by Renamo which set the agenda, and at the time Renamo never said anything about facilitators and observers.
Guebuza said that, from the government's point of view, the abortive Monday meeting should have prepared the proposed meeting between himself and Dhlakama.
“Even so, the government delegations - both civilian and military - will go back to the dialogue table again”, he pledged.
At the ensuing press conference, Guebuza said he was urging Dhlakama “to stop being the problem and become part of the solution”.
Dhlakama had every possibility to contribute to the solution, he added, “and naturally, with my willingness to speak to him, we are going to find a shared solution. This is very important”.
He admitted he did not know where Dhlakama is, but was confident that “the conditions are good to overcome the difficulties we face, although we have some obstacles ahead of us”.
But he warned that dialogue does not mean accepting everything Renamo wants. “Discussing is not agreeing”, he said. “It's not receiving a message and saying ‘yes, I obey'. That only happens in the army or police when the chief tells his subordinate ‘go and do this'. Here it's a matter of equal parties discussing.
They have ideas, it's a clash of ideas, and the result is accepted by the participants”.
“This is one of the mistakes that Renamo makes. It says ‘if you don't do as I say, then you're the bad guys'. And there are those who applaud this”, the President added. “But I think this approach is very dangerous, because on the day they reach power practically nobody else will be able to speak or think”.