Mozambique: PGR Questions Three Renamo Deputies

Maputo — The Mozambican Attorney-General's Office (PGR) on Wednesday questioned three of the four parliamentary deputies of the main opposition party, Renamo, whom it had notified to appear at PGR headquarters in Maputo, in connection with accusations that they are financing the self-styled "Renamo Military Junta".

The three questioned were the head of the Renamo parliamentary group, Ivone Soares, the Renamo national spokesperson, Jose Manteigas, and Antonio Muchanga, who was the Renamo candidate for governor of Maputo province in the elections held on 15 October.

A fourth Renamo parliamentarian, the Party's former general secretary, Manuel Bissopo, did not attend because he lives in Beira, and said he did not have the money to travel to Maputo.

The allegations against the four deputies come from six men detained last year in Zambezia province, who said that the head of the Military Junta, Mariano Nhongo, was intend on reopening the Zambezia front. He had charged them with setting up bases and recruiting more members to the forces of the Junta. They named the four Renamo deputies, among others, of providing funds for the Junta.

While Ivone Soares, on the advice of her lawyer, refused to speak to the reporters waiting for her outside the PGR building, both Muchanga and Manteigas denied that they had anything to do with the Military Junta.

Muchanga's lawyer also wanted him to keep quiet, but Muchanga overruled him. According to a report on the independent television station STV, Muchanga said he had "no reason" to oppose the elected leader of Renamo, Ossufo Momade.

The Junta regards Momade as "a traitor", and does not recognise the peace agreement he signed with President Filipe Nyusi on 6 August. Nhongo, who claims that he is the real president of Renamo, has even threatened to murder Momade.

Muchanga pointed out that, after the Renamo Congress that elected Momade as leader, held in January 2019, he had been appointed an adviser to Momade. "I have no reason to join people who say they want to kill Ossufo Momade", he stressed.

Furthermore, Momade had accepted and backed Muchanga's candidacy for governor of Maputo province "so I have no reason to oppose him".

Manteigas spoke to reporters through his lawyer, who denied that Manteigas is involved in financing the military junta or supporting its ambushes on main roads in Manica and Sofala provinces.

"My client was asked for clarification", he said, "but Renamo distances itself from these attacks. The party has never been involved in the attacks, and my client is the party's spokesperson".

There are doubts as to the legality of the PGR summons. An article in the law on the Statute of Deputies, states that a deputy can only be questioned by prosecutors, with the authorisation of the Assembly plenary, or of the Assembly's governing board, its Standing Commission.

Muchanga accused the Assembly's chairperson, Veronica Macamo, of violating this article. She acted on her own in authorising the summons, and did not communicate the matter to the Standing Commission, he said.

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