17 April 2017

Mozambique: Governor Asks Dhlakama's Father to Help Secure Peace

Photo: wikimedia
Afonso Dhlakama (file photo).

Maputo — The governor of the central Mozambican province of Sofala, Helena Taipo, on Friday called on regulo (chief) Mangunde, who is the father of Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the rebel movement Renamo, and asked him to help persuade his son to transform the current truce into a definitive peace.

Taipo was making an official trip to Chibabava district, and took the opportunity to visit Mangunde, some 20 kilometres from Chibabava town, where Dhlakama's father, Macacho Marceta Dhlakama, is the chief.

According to Monday's issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, members of Taipo's delegation were visibly worried about the visit. Nonetheless, after a journey along steep, sandy and in places near impassable roads, the delegation reached Mangunde, where the chief, dressed in traditional regalia, was waiting to receive Taipo.

Taipo, chief Mangunde and the Chibabava district administrator then met under a tree for 20 minutes, with nobody else within earshot.

Later, at a meeting with members of the Dhlakama extended family and their neighbours, the governor and the chief declared that peace is a precious commodity and the basic condition for development. Taipo said she had come to Mangunde to ask the chief to influence his son to convert the current truce into a lasting peace.

Dhlakama, who is still living in a Renamo military base in Gorongosa district, agreed the truce in telephone conversations with President Filipe Nyusi. The truce took effect on 27 December, and was initially only for a week. But it has been repeatedly extended, and now does not expire until early May. The truce has been holding: no further Renamo ambushes on the roads have been reported, or any clashes between Renamo gunmen and units of the government defence and security forces.

Taipo assured chief Mangunde that “I am here as the governor and as your daughter. I have come to seek advice, because our goal is to see Sofala on the path to development, improving the life of the people”.

She hoped the chief would inform his son of her sincere message, “from the bottom of my heart”, that peace should be a definitive reality for the development of the country”.

Chief Mangunde said he could scarcely believe what was happening: he had never imagined to see the governor in his own home, at a time when he had only just returned from the bush, where he had taken refuge at the height of last year's hostilities.

He said he was honoured by Taipo's visit, and that, if the governor had not visited Chibabava, he would not have believed that Mozambicans were again reconciled. He added that he was optimistic about the prospects for peace, and the understanding between his son and Nyusi.

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