Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi and the leader of the Renamo opposition party, Ossufo Momade, on Thursday closed Renamo’s last remaining military base in Gorongosa, in Sofala province, marking the end of the “Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration – DDR” process in the country.
The dismantling of Renamo’s military bases was agreed under a peace agreement signed by Nyusi and Momade in August 2019. The Gorongosa military base should have been closed before alongside 15 other bases, but for Renamo’s refusal to cooperate on grounds that issue of pensions for its former guerrilla forces had not yet been resolved.
Nyusi said that government had already enacted a decree to have the former guerrillas in a pension scheme, but it needed the last of the combatants demobilised for them to be integrated in the scheme, adding that the money would not be available immediately, as there were still some bureaucratic hurdles to be surmounted.
Momade said that he was interested in seeing that the pensions were all paid to the former guerrillas, who numbered about 350 – all 16 bases held about 5350 former guerrilla fighters.
Meanwhile, Momade handed Nyusi the last AK-47 weapon before Mirko Manzoni, the Special Envoy to Mozambique of the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres.
Both leaders appealed for society to welcome the former guerrillas and help them in the reintegration process.
Mozambique’s DDR process is the longest in world history, having started in 1992 with the signing of the Rome Peace Accord and subsequent agreements in search of lasting peace. The August 2019 agreement was but its latest iteration, and it was billed as “definitive peace.”
Both the government and Renamo have had different interpretation and opposite thoughts. Renamo has used its guerrilla force to extract demands from the government, and even resorted to using force whenever it thought government was not complying.
The notion that Renamo handed its last weapon to government should be taken with a grain of salt.
The government has always wanted to see Renamo completely disarmed, and Nyusi might be thinking that this time is for real and that there will be no more trouble from Renamo.
This “definitive peace” might have been in exchange of millions in whatever currency Renamo might have demanded as usual. Thus, Nyusi might have played the money card to tame Momade and strengthen his position within the ruling Frelimo party so that even if the elections and other plans do not proceed as planned, at least there will be no trouble from Renamo.
So, Mozambique, its citizens and the world are touting the disarmament and closure of Renamo’s last military base as a success, but other agreements were also hailed as a success. However much hope the ceremony signalled, the country might see the rise of the proverbial Phoenix from the ashes within the next six to eight years.
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