Monday, July 6, 2015


Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Mozambique’s former rebel movement Renamo, has once again threatened to “govern by force”, if the government does not submit to his demands.Renamo wants to establish “provincial municipalities” in six northern and central provinces (Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa). As Dhlakama has repeatedly made clear in public statements the “presidents of the provincial councils” in these provinces would not be elected – he would appoint them. Renamo would also appoint all the district administrators and heads of administrative posts. Since the proposal would allow Renamo to take over, from top to bottom, the government structure in six provinces, it is not surprising that the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, where the ruling Frelimo Party holds a majority of 144 of the 250 seats, rejected the Renamo bill earlier this year.Cited by the Portuguese news agency Lusa, Dhlakama on Sunday said he was running out of patience. He has issued several ultimatums, warning Frelimo that, unless it changes its mind about the Renamo bill, he will seize the provinces he wants anyway. The Frelimo majority in the Assembly, and the government, have ignored these threats, and so far Dhlakama has been unable or unwilling to carry them out.Speaking at a former Renamo base in Macoca, in the central province of Manica, at a ceremony marking the 35th anniversary of the creation of the Renamo Women’s Detachment, Dhlakama threatened to expel government administrators from the six provinces. He claimed he would not need to use force to do this – although in the same speech he also promised to “govern by force”.He threatened to use Renamo’s militia to close the main north-south highway to traffic. This was a threat to revert to the tactics used in 2013, when Renamo launched a low level insurgency in the central province of Sofala. Between June 2013 and August 2014, Renamo gunmen ambushed vehicles on the 100 kilometre stretch of highway between the Save river and the small Sofala town of Muxungue. The attacks forced the government to organize military escorts for convoys of vehicles along this stretch of road. “I shall paralyse the road and say that no vehicle passes today”, Dhlakama menaced. He would also evacuate public buildings and expel the administrators appointed by the government “without waging war or beating up anybody”. He did not say what he would do if the administrators refused to go and the local police units resisted. If Frelimo “continues to play around”, then Renamo “will govern by force”, he said – a threat which Dhlakama has made, in almost identical words, many times before.

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