Mozambique: latest political developments

João Paulo Monteiro jpmonteiro at SPAMmail.telepac.pt
Fri Jan 28 15:42:25 MST 2000



RENAMO has transferred its headquarters from Maputo to the city of
Beira, in the central province of Sofala, this weekend. It is also
renewing threats to form parallel provincial governments in the six
provinces that gave it the majority of their votes in the presidential
and legislative elections held last December. These include Niassa,
Nampula, Zambézia, Tete, Manica and Sofala. The FRELIMO strongholds are
the three southernmost provinces (Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane) and the
land of the macondes, Cabo Delgado, in the north-eastern end, where the
liberation struggle begun.

RENAMO has been having an erratic and unpredictable political behavior
since the elections, in part due to the lack of foresight of its leaders
and professionalism of their entourage. Afonso Dhlakama was so convinced
he would win the presidential elections that, against the wishes of all
the opposition, he opposed proposals to curb presidential powers in a
constitutional reform made last year. Mozambique has a russian-style
extreme presidentialist constitution.

Then, when ballot count was still on, RENAMO held a press conference
proclaiming victory on both the presidential and legislative elections.
But the very numbers it gave the journalists to sustain its claims
(after all the additions completed), gave the victory to FRELIMO. This
exposed them to extreme ridicule and political embarrassment.

Then they started shouting accusations of fraud and demanding a
recounting of the votes. But their elected deputies took immediate
possession of their posts (and respective perks). The supreme court
refused the impugnment of the elections and the electoral commission the
recounting of the votes. Due to logistical difficulties some
irregularities did occurred on the elections and the refusal of the
recounting of the votes is questionable.

President Joaquim Chissano is minimizing the latest moves of RENAMO but
the FRELIMO party describes them as "a threat to the integrity of the
nation" and the government issued a complaint to the Procuradoria-Geral
da República (a sort of Attorney-General) for violation of the law of
political parties.

Dhlakama guarantees his party will never, ever go back to war. But the
perspective of parallel governments is causing justified alarm, ever
more so since it is followed by Dhlakama's "warnings" that "some
elements of my party" (RENAMO) "may cause some disorders, but this will
never be on my orders."

If RENAMO creates a situation of dual power with a strong power base on
the center (where it has an overwhelming following among the senas and
the chonas) the country could find itself broken in two, with
communications disrupted and the administrative chain of command in
tatters. This was the main objective of RENAMO on its offensive of late
1986-early 1987.




João Paulo Monteiro










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