Mozambique’s government has just introduced a daft bill in parliament seeking to increase from two to five the number of years for compulsory military service.
Military sources told Mozambique Insights that this is a classic step to prepare for war. The question that arises is against who. The author Arthur Conan Doyle once said that “once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”
The ruling Frelimo party, which has been at the helm of power since Independence in 1975, is going through an internal crisis, which if poorly managed is likely to result in a period of political instability. Frelimo loves to tout what it calls “internal unity” but the glue that holds the party together seems to be wearing thin.
It does not help that only a handful seem to know what is going on. A party famously known for long deliberations has morphed into an authoritarian group comprising the chairperson and his small clique.
Unfortunately, this authoritarian group has a stronghold on the larger society and the consequences seem dire. It is increasingly clear that plans are afoot to silence civil society organisations and other national actors who are critical of the regime and status quo – more and more police flex their muscle to repress any perceived dissent; and Nyusi’s speeches peppered with the words “enemies of democracy”.
Unwittingly, the protesters who were subjected to a brutal crackdown might have been pawns or part of a smokescreen to manipulate the succession battle and capture Frelimo to vested interests.
Two years of military service might have worked when the country was at a relative peace. But the insurgency in Cabo Delgado seems to have changed the thinking of the military to brass and the political leadership, helped perhaps by insights from the Rwandan Defence Force, which is a professional army.
What is not clear is whether the thinking is aligned towards a similar united purpose, or each side has its own objectives.
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