Mozambique: Local Governments Trying to Prevent Renamo Rallies, Momade Claims

Maputo — Ossufo Momade, the leader and presidential candidate of Mozambique's main opposition party, Renamo, on Sunday accused local and municipal governments in the central province of Zambezia of preventing Renamo from using sports fields for its election rallies.

He said this had occurred first in Nicoadala district and, most recently, in the town of Milange. If this accusation is true, the local authorities concerned are breaking the electoral law, which states that, during election campaigns, the competing candidates and parties may use public areas free of charge. Use of these areas must be shared equitably between the parties, but there is no sign that any other party wanted to use the Nicoadala or Milange grounds on the dates of Momade's rallies.

This obstruction forced Renamo to hold the rallies in the streets, where huge crowds gathered to hear Momade.

Denying Renamo use of the open spaces "is undemocratic and undermines the spirit of the peace agreement I recently signed in Maputo with President Filipe Nyusi", said Momade, cited by the independent television station STV. "This shows that we are not at peace and are not reconciled".

He promised that he would phone Nyusi and raise the issue with him. "This country belongs to all Mozambicans, and not to a group of one party such as Frelimo", he said. Those who were denying Renamo the use of pen fields "don't know the danger this could cause for the peace and reconciliation agreement we signed".

In his Zambezia rallies, Momade promised that, if it forms a government, Renamo will build a railway linking northern, central and southern Mozambique. He seemed unaware that this ambitious project has already been promised by the current government.

"If anyone asks where we will find the money for this, I reply that the country has sufficient capacity to make it happen", he said.

He recalled that there had once been a railway between the two main urban centres in Zambezia, Quelimane and Mocuba. He accused the government of removing this railway - whereas, in reality, Renamo had sabotaged it in the early 1980s.

Momade repeated his promise to reduce the price of electricity. He did not explain whether this would mean a return to the discredited policy of subsidising electricity prices.

The Renamo leader also promised to increase the wages of the police. "We want a republican police that does not take orders from political parties", he said.

"Our police take orders from Frelimo, and we all know that", he alleged. "Our vision is to change this situation. We're going to improve the miserable wages they earn now".

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