Maputo — The General Secretary of Mozambique's ruling Frelimo Party, Roque Silva, declared on Tuesday that all Mozambicans must make efforts to guarantee effective and lasting peace.
Speaking in the outlying urban district of Catembe, as part of a working tour of Maputo city, Silva said that securing peace is not merely a task for President Filipe Nyusi. All citizens should be involved, since peace is an asset for the entire nation.
“We must all begin to invest in the consolidation of peace”, insisted Silva, stressing that Nyusi's decision to travel to the central district of Gorongosa to meet the leader of the Renamo rebels, Afonso Dhlakama, showed how committed the President is to restoring a complete peace to the country.
“There are various risks, but the President went there and spoke with the Renamo leader”, said Silva. “The President loves his people and his country”.
One of the fruits of Nyusi's negotiations with Dhlakama is a proposal for constitutional amendments on decentralisation, which are now before the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic. The proposal is highly controversial since it concentrates power in the hands of political party machines.
If the amendments are accepted by parliament, there will be no direct elections of mayors, district administrators or provincial governors. Instead these officials will be appointed by whichever party wins a majority of votes in the elections for municipal, district or provincial assemblies.
“From then on, the district administrators will not be appointed by the Ministry of State Administration, but by the political parties”, said Silva. “These are things that are difficult to accept, but if we want to consolidate peace we must improve decentralisation”.
He said he was content with the proposal because the consensus had been reached in a discussion between Mozambicans.
But those who oppose the deal point out that the discussion was only between the government and Renamo, and the rest of the country was not consulted. The second largest opposition party, the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), has sharply criticised the proposal to abolish the direct election of mayors, something that Mozambique has undertaken without any problems for the past two decades. Similar criticism has come from a wide range of civil society organisations, who believe that the election of mayors is a right won by municipal citizens that should not be lightly discarded.
Silva pointed out that the decentralisation proposals “are not enough”, and that peace can only be effective once Renamo has disarmed its militia.
“We must continue to talk so that Dhlakama understands he must hand over his guns”, stressed Silva. Only when the country has “a single army” can peace be consolidated.
Disarmament of the Renamo militia would be “a gigantic step to the consolidation of peace”, he said - but after that “we must learn to forgive each other. We must have a sense of forgiveness”.