Friday, October 9, 2015


Afonso Dhlakama, leader of Mozambique’s former rebel movement Renamo, left his bush hideout on Thursday, a fortnight after his motorcade had come under attack, on 25 September, in Gondola district, in the central province of Manica. Among those who went to fetch Dhlakama were several of the mediators in the dialogue between the government and Renamo, which Dhlakama unilaterally terminated in August. They were the Vice-Chancellor of the Polytechnic University, Lourenco do Rosario, Anglican bishop Dinis Sengulane. Methodist pastor Anastacio Chembeze, and Moslem cleric Sheik Saide Abibo.The group was accompanied by the chairperson of the Human Rights League (LDH), Alice Mabota, army officers charged with the security of the operation, and senior Renamo members, including the party’s general secretary, Manuel Bissopo, and the head of its parliamentary group, Ivone Soares (who is also Dhlakama’s niece).Dhlakama had insisted on the presence of journalists to witness his re-emergence into public life, and a large number showed up.Since the clash of 25 September, Dhlakama had made his way on foot out of Gondola and into the neighbouring district of Gorongosa, in Sofala province. According to the report in Friday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”, nobody knew exactly where Dhlakama was, and so the group got lost twice on the journey. Local people were unable or unwilling to give directions, and eventually Bissopo had to phone Dhlakama himself to ask the way. Eventually they met up with Dhlakama and his bodyguards in the village of Mucucua, on the north bank of the Pungue river, some 54 kilometres west of Gorongosa town. His guard consisted of about 30 men and women wearing the Renamo green military uniform. It was not clear how long Dhlakama had been there – there were no signs of any Renamo camp or base in Mucucua. In a short statement to the press, Dhlakama declared that he was not interested in seeking revenge for the attack on his motorcade. Surveying the delegation that had come to collect him, Dhlakama claimed “Here we have true national unity. Everyone here is a Mozambican. I don’t see any Americans. Why can’t we understand each other? What is missing?”The lack of a foreign presence contrasts with the last time Dhlakama left the bush, in September 2014, when he was accompanied by several ambassadors.“I have already died”, Dhlakama said. “I am not afraid of dying. Everything I do is for this barefoot people”.He claimed that his opponents “want the country to regress 40 years, and that there should be no democracy, but we are here and we shall continue to fight”.He gave thanks to God (Dhlakama is a Roman Catholic) for allowing him to escape the 25 September attack unscathed. He promised that he would not retaliate, but would continue to wage a political struggle. The convoy stayed for no more than half an hour in Mucucua, before returning to Beira. Dhlakama is expected to remain in Beira for several days before flying to Maputo for his long awaited face-to-face meeting with President Filipe Nyusi. As for Dhlakama’s question “why can’t we understand each other?”, the answer was given by the Political Commission of the ruling Frelimo Party on Thursday, which pointed out that Renamo still has a completely illegal private army.“The presence of Renamo armed men in some provinces of our country creates a climate of fear and uncertainty among the public”, declared a statement from the Political Commission, which once again called for the disarming and demilitarisation of Renamo.

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