Mozambique: Renamo Plans National Council Meeting for Gorongosa

Maputo — Mozambique's former rebel movement Renamo plans to hold a meeting of its National Council in June, in the central district of Gorongosa, at which the party will decide on its candidate for the 15 October presidential election, reports Friday's issue of the independent newsheet “Mediafax”.

Renamo sources in Sofala province told the paper that work is under way among the party's provincial delegations to ensure that the meeting will be held by the first fortnight in June.

Renamo is cutting it fine. The final date for delivering the nomination papers for presidential candidates is 21 July. The main hurdle is the collection of 10,000 supporting signatures from registered voters, each and every one of them recognised by a public notary. The candidates who are already declared - Filipe Nyusi of the ruling Frelimo Party, and Daviz Simango of the Mozambique Democratic Party (MDM) - have already been working on this for several weeks.

It is generally assumed that the Renamo candidate will be the party's leader, Afonso Dhlakama. If so, this will be the fifth time that he has stood for the presidency.

The “Mediafax” source said “We in Sofala have already decided that our candidate will be Afonso Dhlakama. But we want to see if we can manage sufficient votes from other provincial delegations”.

He said that a party directive has been sent to the delegations instructing them to find “pre-candidates” who wish to compete for the job of presidential candidate. “Mediafax” remarks that there are some signs that the Renamo delegation in the northern province of Nampula has already found candidates who will be presented at the June meeting.

But the likelihood that anyone other than Dhlakama will be chosen is remote. Indeed the only reason for holding the meeting in Gorongosa is that Dhlakama is currently living in a Renamo base on the slopes of the Gorongosa mountain range.

Dhlakama has a track record of removing anyone who might challenge him for the Renamo leadership. Thus the man who headed the Renamo team which negotiated the 1992 peace agreement, Raul Domingos, was expelled from the party in 2000, and in 2008 Renamo's most successful municipal politician, the Mayor of Beira, Daviz Simango, was also expelled. This move backfired, since Simango went on to found the MDM, which could easily overtake Renamo as the country's main opposition force.

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