(2012-10-25) Mozambique’s main opposition party, Renamo, on Tuesday demanded that President Armando Guebuza visit the central district of Gorongosa within a month to negotiate a “transitional government” with Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.
A week ago Dhlakama left the northern city of Nampula, where he had lived for more than three years, and announced that he would now reside in the bush of Gorongosa, near Casa Banana, which had been Renamo’s military headquarters in the mid-1980s. According to reporters who witnessed this change of residence, Dhlakama’s new home has neither electricity nor phone communications.
Dhlakama is accompanied by about 800 demobilised Renamo solders, some 300 of whom are believed to be armed.
At a Maputo press conference on Tuesday, the head of the Renamo Defence Department, Ossufo Mamud, said that Renamo had no interest in going back to war, but it wanted Guebuza “to come to Gorongosa to negotiate with our leader”.
The purpose of a dialogue between Guebuza and Dhlakama, he said, was to find “a platform for serious negotiations to form a transitional government”. He did not explain what could possibly justify such a government, when fresh general elections are just two years away.
And what if Guebuza ignored this demand? “Frelimo is well aware of who we are”, replied Mamud. “It knows what our capacities are to bring pressure. So I guarantee you that in less than a month the head of state will meet with the President of Renamo. If that does not happen, the people will push the President of the Republic to go to Gorongosa”.
“We shall see whether he will refuse the will of the people. We love peace, but we do not fear war”, menaced Mamud.
Despite all its talk about representing ”the will of the people” Renamo has been unable to organise a single demonstration in support of its demands anywhere in the country, although it has been threatening to hold nationwide demonstrations for the past three years.
Mamud said that the area of Gorongosa chosen by Dhlakama, known as Sathundjira, “is a favourable location for launching an offensive of any type at national level. But our President prioritises negotiations, serious negotiations, undertaken by serious people interested in finding serious solutions which necessarily involve returning political independence to the Mozambicans”.
Asked what specific areas Dhlakama wants to discuss with Guebuza, Mamud did not reply. Instead, he said “the people are suffering, and we want to put an end to this suffering”.
Guebuza should discuss “various matters” with Dhlakama. He claimed that promises made by Guebuza when the two men met in Nampula had been broken, but gave no details.
Mamud warned the government against any attempt to take Renamo’s new Gorongosa base by storm. He threatened that Renamo would react throughout the country to any such onslaught, but stopped short of saying what form such a reaction would take.
So far the government has been content to watch – although police units are nearby, ready to intervene if there is any threat to law and order.