20 December 2017

Mozambique: State of Nation "challenging, but Encouraging"

Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Wednesday described the county's current condition as “challenging but encouraging”.

Giving his annual State of the Nation address to the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Nyusi said that advances have been made in securing a definitive peace with the rebel movement Renamo.

As part of the pacification efforts, he said, a mechanism to monitor the truce declared a year ago between Renamo and the government forces had been set up, consisting of members appointed by the government and by Renamo.

He had been in regular contact with Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama “and we reached consensus about the road map to follow to attain effective peace”.

Nyusi praised Dhlakama himself for his collaboration in the peace efforts. Consensus had now been achieved about finalising the proposal from the two working groups, set up at the start of the year, one on decentralisation, and one on military questions. Those proposals would be submitted to the Assembly.

“The consensus achieved so far is the fruit of mutual recognition that it is not by means of violence that conflicts and problems are solved, but through a common vision that defines dialogue and the peaceful search for solutions as the priority”, the President stressed.

Advances had been possible, Nyusi added, because of the public commitment he made on taking office in January 2015 that he would do all in his power to ensure that Mozambicans would never again slaughter each other.

“Today, Mozambique is living in a climate of stability, because we have managed to return calm, peace and harmony to Mozambican families”, he said. “We are hopeful that in the very near future, Mozambicans will bear witness to a lasting consensus that will allow us to live in harmony, in an effective and lasting peace”.

The truce between Renamo and the government took effect on 27 December 2016, and held throughout the year. There were no more Renamo ambushes on Mozambican roads, and no clashes between Renamo gunmen and government forces.

Nyusi said little about the more recent threat of armed islamic fundamentalism, merely noting that attacks had taken place against police units and community leaders in Mocimboa da Praia and Palma districts, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

“These attacks were perpetrated by an armed group of criminals inspired in extremism”, he continued. “These attacks are an affront against the democratic rule of law. To face these threats, the defence and security forces have been taking operational measures, and raising awareness against acts of violence, particularly at the religious level”.

“As a government we are guaranteeing the defence of national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity”, Nyusi said. “We shall continue to take vigorous measures to guarantee order and security”.

The initial islamist attacks were against three police units in Mocimboa da Praia on 5 October, which caught the authorities by surprise. There have been several subsequent raids against villages and ambushes of police vehicles. The orthodox moslem organisations in Mozambique have strongly condemned the islamist violence.

As for the Mozambican debt crisis, Nyusi admitted that the failure to declare the true extent of the country's indebtedness to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) led the IMF to put Mozambique “on the list of countries that did not provide correct data”. This had led, in April 2016, to the IMF suspending its programme with Mozambique, while all donors who had once provided direct support to the Mozambican state budget suspended further disbursements.

The key issue is that three security-related companies, Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), Proindicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management), had taken loans of over two billion US dollars from European banks (Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia), backed up by illicit guarantees issued by the previous government headed by Nyusi's predecessor, Armando Guebuza.

An independent audit of the three companies was held by the company Kroll, regarded as the foremost forensic audit company in the world, and Nyusi stressed that the government fully supports the recommendations made in the Kroll audit report.

The matter was now in the hands of the Attorney-General's Office (PGR), and Nyusi made it clear that he will not stand in the way of whatever measures the PGR sees fit to take. In light of the constitutionally enshrined separation of powers, the government would not interfere with the judiciary or the prosecution services.

“The government is completely willing to support the PGR in implementing the recommendations from the Kroll audit and from the parliamentary commission of inquiry into the debts”, he pledged.

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