Maputo — Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Mozambique's former rebel movement Renamo, has once again boasted that Renamo will govern six northern and central provinces as from March, but has refused to explain exactly how this will be achieved.
In an interview published in Wednesday's issue of the anti-government weekly “Canal de Mocambique”, Dhlakama ruled out any talks with President Filipe Nyusi, despite Nyusi's repeated invitations to a face-to-face meeting in Maputo.
There were no contacts between Renamo and the government, he claimed. “We're not interested.
Negotiate what?”, asked Dhlakama, “We negotiated the General Peace Agreement (in 1992) so that all institutions would function with democratic rules.
Frelimo didn't want it and nothing functioned”.
Dhlakama repeated the standard Renamo lies about the 1992 agreement - namely that Renamo's private militia is envisaged in the terms of the agreement. In fact, the clause in the agreement which allows Renamo to provide its own security for its leaders is time-bound. It is one of a series of transitional guarantees for the period between the cease fire and the first multi-partty elections. Those elections were held in October 1994 - since that time Renamo's militia has been entirely illegal.
“They want to take our guns away from us so that they can finish off Renamo”, Dhlakama claimed.
“Nobody is going to oblige me, Afonso Dhlakama, to hand over guns to Frelimo”.
But when the police the police surrounded Dhlakama's house in Beira on 9 October last year, he did allow his personal body guards to be disarmed. Explaining this awkward fact, he said “What I did in Beira is a military strategy. I am a general and the first thing I thought of was to avoid a bloodbath, because I am with the people”.
Dhlakama frequently described himself as a “general” - but this is a self-awarded rank. No legitimate institution ever gave Dhlakama any military rank at all.
“The playing around has finished. We are going to govern”, Dhlakama insisted. “I have the support of the entire population. Everybody thinks we've had enough. This has gone on too long. We shall govern”.
The “Canal de Mocambique” reporter pointed out that that last year Dhlakama repeatedly promised to take over Sofala, Manica, Zambezia, Tete, Nampula and Niassa provinces. “You gave several ultimatums, but they were no more than declarations”, the reporter said. “Do you think people will take this deadline of March seriously?”
But Dhlakama insisted that this time he was serious and Renamo “will form a government where we won the elections. We will form our government peacefully in the six provinces”. A seventh, Cabo Delgado, “will then fall into our hands. It won't be able to resist. It will be isolated”.
Dhlakama's claim of a Renamo victory in six provinces is grossly exaggerated. Dhlakama himself topped the poll in the 15 October 2014 presidential election in five provinces - Sofala, Manica, Zambezia, Tete and Nampula - but Renamo only won a majority of votes in the parliamentary elections in Sofala and Zambezia, and secured a majority in the provincial assembly elections in Sofala, Zambezia and Tete.
Frelimo won a clear victory in all three elections in Niassa.
Dhlakama claimed that his takeover of northern and central Mozambique would be entirely peaceful “as if we were demonstrating”. But if the police were to react to Renamo's attempted coup “we shall defend ourselves”.
“We are saying that we shall govern”, he repeated. “If anyone wants to attack or hinder us, we shall defend ourselves. We shall be using the right to self-defence. We are really going to govern in March. This is not a game. But we are also prepared to defend ourselves. If anyone tries to stop us don't come and accuse Dhlakama of wanting war”.
“Write down that I said we are going to govern”, he told the reporter. “I'm not a traitor. If this does not happen, I would be a great traitor. I'm not going to meet with Nyusi, because there is no reason for us to meet. What we want and what we are going to do is govern in the provinces where we won”.
Offers of meetings by Nyusi were made simply in order to gain time, Dhlakama claimed. “We are tired of these games. I swear on my mother's soul that I am not going to make this mistake again. This time, we are only going to negotiate when we are governing the six provinces”.