Maputo — The leader of the self-styled "Renamo Military Junta", Mariano Nhongo, on Monday demanded that the Mozambican general elections, scheduled for 15 October, be postponed, so that he can compete.
The Junta held a three day meeting somewhere in the bush of the central district of Gorongosa over the weekend at which it "elected" Nhongo as the leader of Renamo, announcing the overthrow of the man who really was elected President of Renamo (at a party congress in January), Ossufo Momade.
Nhongo was the only candidate at the junta's Gorongosa meeting, and he also took the opportunity to promote himself from Major-General to Lieutenant-General. Since the decisions from the meeting were circulating on the Internet on Saturday, the whole thing was clearly cooked up in advance.
Up until a few weeks ago, Nhongo was unheard-of. Versions of his past are now circulating which claim that his real rank in Renamo is that of sergeant, and that he deserted from Renamo in 1992, rejoining in 2014.
At his press conference on Monday, cited by the independent daily "O Pais", Nhongo said the elections must be postponed because "I, as president of Renamo, need some time to prepare. Furthermore, we would be creating conditions for another, genuine voter registration, bearing in mind that the one recently held was full of fraud".
He declared that there was no possibility of any dialogue with Momade or with Renamo general secretary Andre Majubire, whom the junta regard as "traitors". Momade and Majibire should "immediately stop using symbols of the party for electoral purposes and cease their contacts with government and foreign entities".
Among those attending the Junta's conference was Andre Matsangaissa, the nephew of his namesake, whom the Rhodesian white minority regime of Iain Smith appointed as Renamo's first commander in 1977. He warned the Renamo parliamentary deputies, and the party's district and provincial delegates that, if they remained in contact with Momade and Magibe "they are on a collision course with the military wing of Renamo".
So too was the government, he added. Following Renamo meant following Nhongo and the military wing, he claimed.
Nhongo said he plans to meet in the near future with Ivone Soares, head of the Renamo parliamentary group, to order her to reject the peace agreement signed between Momade and President Filipe Nyusi on 6 August. The agreement is the main item on the agenda of an extraordinary sitting of the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, to be held between Wednesday and Friday.
Apparently untroubled by these developments, Momade is touring the northern province of Nampula, attracting large crowds to rallies in the coastal districts of Nacala and Memba. On this visit, for the first time ever, the security of the Renamo leader is being guaranteed by a contingent of the Mozambican police force, and the Renamo militia, in their distinctive green uniforms, are nowhere to be seen.
The government has not yet reacted to the Junta's demands. It is, however, obvious that having worked for so many months to achieve a peace agreement with Renamo, the government is not going to tear it up just because a few people have held an angry meeting in Gorongosa.