Not practising what he preaches
During his sojourn in New York, at the end of March, Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi spoke repeatedly of the importance of dialogue with the opposition as well as showing mutual respect.
On 3 March, Ossufo Momade, leader of the main opposition party, Renamo, called Nyusi two-faced and dishonest, a sign that Momade thinks there is a distance between theory and practice when it comes to Mozambique’s President.
And he might have a point: Nyusi and Momade signed in August 2019 the aptly called Maputo Accord, which among others, dealt with the matter of demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration of Renamo former guerrilla fighters; closing of all Renamo military bases; and continue spearheading the process of decentralisation, which involves devolution of power to local government.
Key to the decentralisation process was the holding of district elections in 2024. This was fruit of an agreement between Nyusi and the later Renamo leader, Afonso Dhlakama, which led to district elections being enshrined in the constitution.
Fast forward to 2023, Nyusi has all but torn the constitutional text and is prepared to ignore Renamo’s protestations and scrap the district elections by changing the constitution.
This is seen by Momade as lack of respect. Ironically Nyusi told United Nations member states, in the Security Council halls, that one lesson he had learned in working for peace was mutual respect.
Now that the Maputo Accord is in its final stage of implementation, with declarations that Renamo’s last base will be closed towards the end of April, it would seem that Nyusi has jettisoned the dialogue he claimed was fundamental for peace-building.
Perhaps this has to do with Frelimo’s own vision of power: winner takes all. In other words, a dialogue is just a means to bring the other part to the table, make a few concessions here and there, and reach an end to conflict. After which, some of the achievements of the peace agreement are unilaterally thrown out, judged impractical.
At this stage, it is clear that Nyusi and Frelimo never wanted district elections. If it found its way into the constitution, it was to ensure that Momade’s signature was on the dotted line.
Unfortunately, Mozambique lurches from conflict to conflict and perhaps it never occurs to Frelimo that some of the conflicts arise out of a political culture that places party over nation and not the other way round, meaning that only Frelimo sees itself as all-knowing of all aspirations of Mozambicans.
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