Mozambique: Will Not Sack Its Leader

Maputo — Mozambique's main opposition party, Renamo, has no intention of sacking its leader, Ossufo Momade.

The party's deputy head of mobilization, Domingos Gundana, told the German agency DW-Africa that Momade will continue to lead Renamo at least until January next year, when Renamo will hold a new Congress, at which a new leadership could be elected.

Gundana was reacting to demands made on Saturday by a group of eight former Renamo generals, who wanted Momade's immediate resignation, and claimed that he was working secretly for the ruling Frelimo Party.

Addressing a press conference in the central city of Beira, the spokesperson for the dissidents, Timosse Maquinze, accused Momade of abandoning former Renamo guerrillas, demobilised under the DDR (Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reinegration), being implemented as part of the 2019 peace agreement with the government.

But Gundana said the real issue was money. The discontent expressed by Maquinze was related with the delays in paying pensions to the demobilised fighters. "Everything resolves around money, and the hunger which the fighters who are now at home are experiencing', stressed Gundana.

He pointed out that Maquinze is a member of the Renamo National Political Commission. But rather than discuss problems in Renamo's own bodies, he had preferred to address a press conference.

"He is inside the Renamo decision making centre', said Gundana, "but he never raised any questions concerned with what he read out on Saturday'.

Since he went outside of the Renamo structures to raise his complaints, he showed that "there is somebody behind him who, at this moment, as we approach the municipal elections, wants to disturbs Renamo's focus'.

The dissidents' press conference "was a surprise for all of us', said Gundana, "but since we recognize that they are our colleagues, the party shall call them in for talks'.

The National Political Commission could meet this week, he added, and since Maquinze is a member of the Political Commission "he will have room to explain what is behind his demands, which include the dismissal of a President who was elected by a Renamo Congress'.

Momade won a contested election in a Renamo Congress held in January 2019, and his term of office ends on 20 January 2024.

Gundana rejected any possibility of forcibly removing Momade from office, since that would violate the Renamo statutes. The dissidents "must obey the party's statutes', he stressed. Kicking Momade out of office would just be "some soldiers carrying out a political coup to remove an elected president'.

Asked whether Renamo might bring the congress forward to elect a new leader, Gundana ruled out such a move in the middle of an election year, when efforts should be concentrated on winning control of the municipalities.

As for the money promised to the demobilised guerrillas, Gundana declared "it is the government that should pay the pensions, not Renamo or the leader of Renamo'.

The former guerrillas might believe that by removing Momade, they would obtain their money, he added, "but this process is already well advanced, and there are legal instruments in Mozambique which give these people the right to pensions'.

That claim is highly questionable since pensions were not covered by the 2019 peace agreement. However, a quid pro quo is easily in sight - money to pay pensions to the demobilised could be available, but only after Renamo has dismantled its last military base, and handed over its last weapons.

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