Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Monday assured the diplomatic corps accredited in Maputo that he expected a final document from the negotiations between the government and the rebel movement Renamo to be concluded soon so that it can be placed before the county's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic.
He was speaking to dozens of ambassadors who came to the presidential palace to offer their New Year greetings.
Nyusi said that that a “frank and open dialogue” with Renamo “has been developing serenity and confidence in our capacity to establish consensus and to build a better country”.
But he made it clear that the “decentralisation” demanded by Renamo (by which Renamo means the election of provincial governors rather than their appointment by the President) must take place simultaneously with the dismantling of Renamo's illegal militia.
“The disarming, demobilisation and reinsertion of Renamo's men must take place in order for the cessation of military hostilities to be credible”, Nyusi said. “This step should be taken alongside decentralisation”.
He added “we are working on restructuring the Mozambican armed forces (FADM), a process that will also be the result of consensus, without sacrificing their quality”.
Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama has demanded the appointment of officers from the Renamo militia to senior positions in the FADM and the police, contradicting his assertion that he wants “non-political” armed forces.
Nyusi's speech indicates that he intends to avoid the mistake made by his predecessor, Armando Guebuza, who, in September 2014, signed an agreement with Dhlakama on the cessation of hostilities without a single Renamo militiaman being disarmed or demobilised.
The Renamo insurrection is currently on hold. Following the ceasefire that took effect on 27 December 2016, there have been no further Renamo ambushes on the country's roads, and no clashes between Renamo gunmen and government forces. But the Renamo militia still exists, and the government is clear that a definitive peace can only be achieved when it is disarmed.
Nyusi said the government is committed to re-establishing the confidence of its bilateral and multilateral partners - a confidence that was lost when the true extent of the country's foreign debt came to light in April 2016.
The Guebuza government, in 2013 and 2014, had signed illegal guarantees for over two billion US dollars worth of loans contracted from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia by the security-related companies Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), Proindicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management).
The Proindicus and MAM loans were kept secret from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Mozambique's other partners, not to mention the Mozambican public, and the Ematum loan only came to light because it took the form of a bond issue on the European market.
The hidden debts led the IMF to suspend its programme with Mozambique, and all 14 donors who used to provide direct support to the Mozambican state budget suspended further disbursement. That aid remains suspended to this day.
Nyusi said the investigations into what happened to the two billion dollars are in the hands of the Attorney-General's Office (PGR), which ordered an independent audit of the three companies by the company Kroll Associates. The audit found that much of the money could not be accounted for.
“Respecting the principle of the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution, the government is continuing to accompany the findings and recommendations of the PGR”, said Nyusi. “We are continuing to collaborate, when asked”.
He also made it clear that the government wants to see those responsible for the illegal debts held responsible for their actions.
“We believe in the Mozambican institutions, and we want to continue being a nation that respects the law, as other nations do”, Nyusi stressed. “The rapid clarification of this issue and holding those responsible to account is the final desire of the people, and hence of our government, which has a contract with the people”.
Turning to the fight against corruption, Nyusi said the number of corruption cases brought to public knowledge “is the fruit of the intensive work that we have been undertaking. We are consistent in what we say and what we do”.
“The struggle against corruption requires a change of attitude and mentality”, he added. “Corruption is sometimes imported into Mozambique, corrupting Mozambican individuals and institutions”. He gave no examples, but the most obvious cases are the bribes offered by the Brazilian companies Embraer and Odebrecht. Three people, including former Transport Minister Paulo Zucula, are facing trial for their involvement in the bribe of 800,000 dollars paid by Embraer to ensure that Mozambique Airlines (LAM) purchased two of its aircraft.
Nyusi called on the foreign observers accredited to watch the mayoral by-election in the northern city of Nampula on Wednesday not to interfere. “Just as our partners appeal to non-interference in the institutions, so we too would like them to respect this Mozambican process, and to observe it with the greatest impartiality and transparency”.