Maputo — Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the Mozambican rebel movement Renamo, has declared that any dialogue with the government is dependent on Renamo first taking power in the six central and northern provinces which it claims (Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa).
This demand for power first, talks later comes in reaction to last week's call by the National Defence and Security Council (CNDS) for dialogue between Dhlakama and President Filipe Nyusi.
Dhlakama's position is contained in a statement published in the Renamo information bulletin, which declares “Renamo is willing to hold a dialogue with Frelimo, but demands in the first place the governance of the six provinces where it won the elections. Hence any dialogue in the future should occur when Renamo is effectively governing in those provinces”.
Renamo's claim that it won the October 2015 general elections in these six provinces is quite untrue. Dhlakama himself topped the poll in the presidential election in five provinces - Sofala, Manica, Zambezia, Tete and Nampula - but in the parliamentary elections Renamo only won a majority of votes in Sofala and Zambezia. In the elections for provincial assemblies, Renamo secured a majority in Sofala, Zambezia and Tete. As for the sixth province mentioned by Dhlakama, Niassa, Frelimo won a clear victory there in all three elections.
The Renamo statement also accused the government of “militarizing” the central and northern provinces, where it has supposedly dispatched a strong contingent formed of soldiers trained by “North Korean instructors”.
Nobody else has seen any Korean military personnel in Mozambique. While the government has not bothered to respond to this accusation, the United Nations has placed North Korea under a tight regime of sanctions, and it is most unlikely that Mozambique would violate UN resolutions that were backed by the entire Security Council.
Renamo is also making any dialogue between Dhlakama and Nyusi conditional on what it calls “serious mediation”. It wants any talks mediated by the Catholic Church and by South African President Jacob Zuma.
According to a report in Monday's issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”, Renamo has now added the European Union to the list of those it wants to mediate future dialogue. Its interest in dragging the EU to the mediation table was expressed when a Renamo delegation met in Maputo last week with Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
But when the paper contacted the official Renamo spokesperson, Antonio Muchanga, he said he had no details about the matter since he had been outside Maputo.
Renamo's list of pre-conditions is in stark contrast with Nyusi's call for a dialogue with no pre-conditions.
As for mediators, the government has repeatedly said it sees no need for foreign mediators in a dispute between Mozambicans. At Renamo's insistence, a group of Mozambican mediators took part in the dialogue between the government and Renamo that ran from April 2013 to August 2015, when Dhlakama unilaterally suspended it.
Those mediators were prominent academic Lourenco do Rosario, Anglican bishop Dinis Sengulane, Catholic priest Filipe Couto, Methodist preacher Anastacio Chembeze and Moslem cleric Sheikh Saide Abibo. Renamo sacked the mediators late last year - but since they were appointed jointly by the government and Renamo, it is not clear that any unilateral decision by Renamo has any validity.