Maputo — The general secretary of Mozambique's ruling Frelimo Party, Filipe Paunde, on Saturday condemned what he regarded as attempts to distort and damage the image of President Armando Guebuza through a campaign of insults,
Speaking at the end of a march through the streets of central Maputo by thousands of Frelimo members and supporters, called to praise the achievements of Guebuza during his nine years in office, and to mark his 71st birthday (which falls on Monday), Paun said the President does not deserve the harsh treatment meted out to him by some circles of public opinion.
“To say that Guebuza is avoiding dialogue with the leader of Renamo, Afonso Dhlakama, is a gross falsehood and an injustice”, he said. “Guebuza visited Nampula twice to speak with Dhlakama”.
(Dhlakama lived in the northern city of Nampula from 2009 to October 2012)
Paunde pointed out that it is Renamo that has been murdering Mozambican citizens in its recent armed attacks. “You can't say that someone who kills has reason on his side”, he said. “Society must condemn this sort of violence”.
In a democracy “the people decide who governs them, and power cannot be seized through the use of force”, he added. In the last general elections “the people voted for Frelimo”, Paunde stressed. “The others have to wait for their turn, without using guns to try to grab power”.
There were those who claimed that Guebuza does not wish to leave power, despite his repeated public statements that he will not seek a third term of office.
“Guebuza is a man of his word”, declared Paunde. “He has promised that this will be his last term of office, and then he will leave. We should be proud that we have the tireless President that we have”.
He said that Guebuza's entire life has been devoted to improving the conditions of the Mozambican people, He took part in the national liberation struggle, despite his detention by the Portugurese secret police, the PIDE, during his first attempt to leave the country and join Frelimo in Tanzania. “He did not vacillate but persisted until he succeeded”, said Paunde.
He recalled that, in the transitional government set up in September 1974 after the fall of Portuguese colonial-fascism, Guebuza was Minister of Internal Administration, and after independence in June 1975 he held several senior government posts including Minister of the Interior, National Political Commissar of the Armed Forces and Minister-Resident in Sofala Province.
He had headed the government delegation to the peace talks with Renamo in Rome, which lasted for two long years, and Paunde regarded this as “sufficient proof that he has always put the national interest above his personal interests”.
For almost ten years as head of state, Guebuza had led such major initiatives as ensuring majority Mozambican ownership of HCB, the company that operates the Cahora Bassa dam on the Zambezi river. “Today we have power from the national grid, based on HCB, in 118 of the 128 districts”, said Paunde.
Guebuza had set up the District Development Fund (FDD), still commonly known as “the seven million”, since it started, in 2006, as a flat allocation of seven million meticais (about 232,000 US dollars at current exchange rates) to each district to be lent to citizens who proposed viable projects that could create jobs and increase food production.
This fund, and the later fund set up to combat urban poverty were revolutionizing the lives of people living in both urban and rural areas, claimed Paunde.
Other achievements listed by Paude included the expansion of the education, health and water supply networks, and the construction of roads and bridges throughout the country.