Mozambique: Support Yes, but Middlemen No, Nyusi Tells Diplomats

Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Thursday guaranteed that the government has never rejected support granted by the international community to fight against terrorism.

On the contrary, he added, speaking at a meeting with the diplomatic corps accredited in Maputo, the government recognises that, on its own, it will never be able to eradicate this scourge. Hence it welcomed expressions of solidarity and interest in supporting Mozambique in this struggle.

But he added that Mozambique "does not need errand boys". A state with a functioning diplomatic service did not need to find middlemen to communicate with other countries or institutions.

"We, the government of Mozambique, have at no time refused support - except from those who want to channel support through non-formal or non-direct paths", said Nyusi. "It would be unfair to say, as we have heard in some circles, that the government does not accept support from its partners. We want, once again, to reaffirm that we are open to cooperation and aid, under terms and modalities that should be discussed in Mozambique, within the framework of the established formal mechanisms and without the need for middlemen".

Mozambique is a sovereign country, he stressed, and so it will not discuss via intermediaries. The government could speak for itself, and so "we don't need errand boys".

"We have strong, formal institutions, and we have always said that we don't need middlemen in order to speak with a brother country, a friendly country", Nyusi added.

It was in this spirit, he said, that the government has been working in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to mobilise support from the member countries, through a coordinated mechanism.

In the case of SADC, technical aspects needed to be taken care of, he added, such as the procedures for the entry and departure of foreign troops, and for eventualities such as the death of any of the troops.

Nyusi said the Mozambican authorities have already identified the support needed. In some cases, specific programmes are under implementation, and in others the partners are still considering what type of support should be provided in accordance with the needs presented.

"It's not words and statements to the press which dictate the acceptance of support, even in the form of simple intentions. Actions speak louder than words", said the President.

The government's strategy to combat violence in Cabo Delgado has three prongs, he explained - the prevention of terrorism, the protection of the public, and pursuit of the terrorists, in order to restore security and tranquility to the affected areas.

At the same time, the government is taking short, medium and long term actions to boost the training, re-equipment and modernization of the defence and security forces, in order to endow them with the capacity to face more effectively the scourge of terrorism, with the country's few domestic resources, and in the framework of cooperation with bilateral and multilateral partners.

Nyusi told the diplomats that the defence of the country and of its sovereignty will only be sustainable and lasting if the defence forces are modernized, and their capacity built up. It was urgent to make the Mozambican forces sustainable, since Nyusi was well aware that support from the international community will not last forever.

Terrorism, he said, "is a global phenomenon which does not respect the borders of a country, region or continent. So fighting it, while this is the responsibility of each state directly affected, requires the concentrated and cooperative efforts of all countries".

Nyusi also briefed the diplomats on progress in the demobilization, disarming and reintegration (DDR) of members of the militia of the main opposition party, Renamo. The demobilization started in mid-2019, and so far 2,307 former Renamo fighters have been demobilised, including some who have defected from the dissident "Renamo Military Junta".

He said that, had it not been for financial constraints and the Covid-19 pandemic, the entire demobilisation could have been completed by August this year. He stressed that all Renamo fighters, including Military Junta commander, Mariano Nhongo, are welcome to join the demobilization.

Nyusi also admitted that he found the rise in known corruption cases in Mozambique "frightening". The number of criminal cases resulting from corruption had risen from 911 in 2019 to 1,280 in 2020, an increase of 39 per cent.

But this rise, he added, was also due to successful work by Mozambican institutions in investigating corruption, which led to cases being uncovered and prosecuted.

He told the meeting that the government's commitment to the fight against corruption is "total and vigorous".

The meeting between the President and the diplomatic corps is an annual event, normally held at the beginning of the year. This time the Covid-19 pandemic forced a delay of several months.

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