Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Several senior figures of Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo Party on Monday attacked the proposal for “autonomous regions” or “autonomous provinces” made by the former rebel movement Renamo, making it increasingly unlikely that the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, will approve the promised bill on the matter.As Frelimo central brigades fan out across the provinces, each headed by a member of the party’s Political Commission, they are warning against any attempt to divide the country.Thus in the northern city of Nampula, Filipe Paunde said that the creation of “autonomous regions” would violate the Mozambican constitution “and seeks to hold back the country’s development”.He stressed that all citizens should be aware that Mozambique “is one and indivisible”, and that it is through national unity that living standards have been improved.In Chimoio, capital of Manica province, another Political Commission member, Alcinda Abreu, argued that the creation of autonomous regions is not compatible with the current constitution. The October 15 general elections, which gave Renamo and its leader, Afonso Dhlakama, a slight advantage in some parts of central and northern Mozambique were national, and not regional, elections, she stressed.Dhlakama’s calls for autonomy, Abreu added, “violate national sovereignty and unity, and seek to suggest dividing a country which has always fought for the unity of its people. There are no autonomous regions in Mozambique”.Eneas Comiche, the former mayor of Maputo, and now the chairperson of the parliamentary Plan and Budget Commission, speaking in the southern city of Inhambane, warned citizens “not to get carried away by the speeches of Afonso Dhlakama”.There was no room, he argued, for models of governance “which promote tribalism and regionalism”.Dhlakama himself, in an interview published in last Friday’s issue of the independent weekly “Savana”, argues that “autonomous provinces” are entirely compatible with the constitution, because decentralized local councils, such as the existing 53 municipalities, are already covered by the Constitution, and an autonomous province would just be a large municipality.This ingenious argument is not shared by all Renamo members. The latest issue of the official Renamo publication “A Perdiz” carries an opinion article calling for the abolition of the current Constitution and its replacement by a federal regime.The article claims that Mozambique needs a federal constitution “in order to remove the causes of conflicts”. It claims that “cultural traditions and even specific needs of each zone, each tribe, each province, and each region” have been repressed, leading to “a wave of ill-defined but real violence to reject oppression”.The anonymous author claims that there is only a “false national unity” in Mozambique, disguising “the dominating tendencies of one region, one tribe and above all one party over other Mozambicans”. Routine sneers against “the communists of Frelimo” follow, before the article declares “the Constitution should be changed to allow those who like communism to have a communist government, and those who like the Family to have a governor from Renamo”.It is impossible to say whether this reflects majority opinion in Renamo, but the fact that the article occupies a page and a half in the party’s official publication surely indicates that it is at least a significant trend.

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