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Joe Hanlon: 245 – No cease fire

9 March 2014
Editor: Joseph Hanlon (
No cease fire

Acceptance of Renamo demands for changes in the electoral law have not brought a cease fire.  There have been no recent Renamo attacks on civilian targets, on the main north-south N1 road near Muxungue, or in Inhambane. But both the army and Renamo continue patrols and attacks on military targets in the Gorongosa area.

On Sunday 2 March Renamo attacked a military base killing four soldiers. Government response has included shelling Renamo bases on the Gorognosa mountains with Soviet era B11 field guns (with a range of 450 metres) on Wednesday 5 March, according to Renamo (Savana 7 March). There was shooting between the two sides near Inhaminga which O Pais (6 March) reports was linked to an army attack on the nearby Renamo base at Dimba.

In negotiations last week, Renamo stressed it still wants a cease fire, but wants to impose conditions. It has returned to demanding international mediation and monitoring of the cease fire. And it wants release of Renamo members detained without trial, including Renamo head of information Jeronimo Malagueta who was arrested in June 2013 after announcing at a press conference that Renamo would start attacking the north-south road, north of the Save River. Others they want released include Renamo guerrillas detained in Nampula province last year.

In parliament Thursday 6 March Frelimo MPs said they felt cheated, and that there had been an informal agreement in the negotiations that if parliament agreed to Renamo election proposals, then there would be a cease fire. Eneas Comiche, former mayor of Maputo, said “we agreed to changes in the electoral law in the spirit of dialogue and in order to stop the attacks. It was in vain – Renamo murdered four more Mozambicans this week” (a reference to the Renamo attack Sunday). (AIM 6 March) Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina told parliament that the fighting near Gorongosa has now displaced 6,727 people.

COMMENT: The military settlement is less straight-forward that it seems. Both sides now look back to the 1992 Rome peace accord. Government says that accord involved a cease fire and disarmament, and says there cannot be another cease fire and demands that Renamo simply disarm. The spokesman for Renamo at the negotiations, Saimone Macuiana, speaking after the session on Wednesday 5 March, said „we want a durable cease fire“ and that „we cannot allow a situation identical to what happened after the Rome talks.“ Unusually, the Renamo statement was published on the front page of Noticias (6 March).

The Rome accord called for a genuinely integrated army. Renamo claims, with some justification, that its soldiers and officers were marginalised and retired early, and never became a proper part of a joint Mozambican military. Fearing this, Renamo never fully demobilised and 20 years later still has military bases. This was tacitly accepted by the government and the international community. But the now aging senior Renamo military figures feel they have not gained a fair share of the growing wealth of Mozambique. Two decades ago no one imagined the potential wealth from gas and coal, or million dollar houses in Maputo, and Renamo argues that the Frelimo elite has been unwilling to share that wealth with them. President Armando Guebuza was clearly unwilling to make any concessions to Renamo. So the military leadership pushed Renamo president Afonso Dhlakama back to military action last year.

Dhlakama and the military leadership want both status and money. It appears that Dhlakama really believes that if an election were „free and fair“, he would win. And the military leadership wants the status of senior posts in the Mozambican army. Money would go a long way to solve the problem, but status is also important.

Two decades ago, Frelimo sensibly looked at the rest of Africa and opted for a small and aging army that could not stage a coup. It also wanted to ensure loyalty, so it marginalised and removed Renamo figures from the army. The new presidential candidate Filipe Nyusi is Defence Minister but also loyal to the Frelimo leadership. There has been substantial spending on weapons and training recently, but also carefully divided – boats for coastal patrol to the security services, SISE, airplanes for a newly rebuilt air force, and newly trained and equipped special army units to attack Renamo. Still a careful balance to try to prevent coups.

Frelimo’s problem, then, is how to give senior Renamo military figures genuine status within the military, without compromising the loyalty of the military.

A core problem is that serious discussions have been delayed for so long, with both Guebuza and Dhlakama being extremely rigid. If Guebuza had been willing to buy off Renamo several years ago, money might have been enough. The almost total concession on elections could have been offered two or three years ago, and suggests at least some panic on the Frelimo side.

Are there alternative ways forward? Could mediators help with lateral thinking? For example, might it be possible to follow the Chissano model? Could an Afonso Dhlakama Foundation for Peace and Democracy be created, perhaps with $50 million from capital gains taxes on gas share sales. In exchange Dhlakama would employ all his own people, giving him the status of a major chief with money at his disposal. The military leaders could be foundation department heads, and so on.

There must be many alternative solutions possible. But Frelimo’s need to maintain a loyal military also needs to be recognised.      jh

Further thoughts on the nomination
of Nyusi as Frelimo presidential candidate

Some observers try to describe Frelimo in terms of simple factions, for example linked to Armando Guebuza or Joaquim Chissano. The selection of Nyusi reflects a much more complex dynamic. Frelimo needs to be seen much more as a multi-dimensional matrix, with all of the key figures having multiple identities and multiple alliances. Region, language, family, age, gender, history, and business links all play roles. That must be seen in the context of an obsession with unity – there are no splits and no one is ever expelled from the party – and there are often long negotiations to reach compromises.

Three widely reported issues are true. There is a long-standing hostility between Guebuza and Chissano. Guebuza has tried to reshape and control the party to remain in power. And the centralisation of power and wealth in the hands of a Guebuza group has created a major backlash within the party.

An interesting paper by Marcelo Mosse (in the attached pdf in Portuguese) looks more closely at the shifting dynamics. Mosse argues that Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco was Guebuza’s first choice, but he proved to be too widely unacceptable with senior party people.

Opposition to Guebuza crystallised around Chissano and a Maputo-based group linked to Graca Machel and others. The liberation war veterans also took a stand again Guebuza, but they are more mixed because they also include Maputo-based children of the veterans.

Slowly, a different set of alliances came into play. Alberto Chipande remains extremely powerful in the north and especially in Cabo Delgado, and also has business links to the Nacala corridor and thus to the northern railway (where Nyusi was a manager). So a northern and Macondi group becomes more important. Chipande and Nyusi are Macondi, as is Marcelina Chissano, the wife of Joaquim Chissano.

Family links matter in Frelimo, and Nyusi is from a well know liberation family which also has a presence in artistic circles. So he is known within the party, even if not by the general public.

Nyusi then became the compromise candidate between the Guebuza and Chipande groups, acceptable to the war veterans, while Luisa Diogo gained support from the south and some women in the party. The choice became: does Frelimo select the first woman candidate or the first northern candidate?

Marcelo Mosse in his article calls the final central committee elections of Nyusi „mere formalism“ to confirm a done deal, and I have also heard that view from diplomats. I am less sure. Frelimo always prefers to settle its differences with long internal negotiations. Having a vote in public suggests that neither side was sure of their strength – would war veterans go with Nyusi, would women go with Diogo? And having one-third of the Central Committee voting against Nyusi in the second round is also a marker of continuing divisions within the party.

And how would the two work as candidates, especially against Daviz Simango of MDM and Afonso Dhlakama of Renamo? Diogo would be the better candidate against Simango in urban areas and with the young, which are two of his bigger support bases. But Simango and Dhlakama are both from Sofala, so Nyusi will probably do well in northern rural areas – which have the most votes.

If this analysis is correct, two comments can be made:
1) Nyusi is not simply a Guebuza place-person. Rather he represents two very different groups within Frelimo. He will need to balance two different sets of pressure and advice, and neither one will be dominant. This could give him more space for manoeuvre and find his own way.
2) With the key role of Chipande, and with the gas coming on stream at the end of the next presidential term, Nyusi could mark a real shift of economic and political focus toward the north of Mozambique.                   jh