Dh­lakama wants Zuma me­di­a­tion

Lesotho Times - - Africa -

MA­PUTO — Afonso Dh­lakama, leader of Mozam­bique’s for­mer rebel move­ment Re­n­amo, says South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma is favourably dis­posed to­wards me­di­at­ing in the con­flict be­tween Re­n­amo and the Mozam­bi­can govern­ment.

How­ever, South African In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and Co-op­er­a­tion Min­is­ter Maite Nkoana-masha­bane says Dh­lakama has not even con­tacted the South African govern­ment.

In­ter­viewed by the in­de­pen­dent tele­vi­sion sta­tion STV in his bush hide­out in the cen­tral district of Gorongosa, Dh­lakama, who had ear­lier re­jected any face-to-face meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Filipe Nyusi, said he was pre­pared to speak to Nyusi pro­vided cer­tain con­di­tions were met.

Th­ese in­cluded guar­an­tees for his own safety and me­di­a­tion by the Catholic Church and Zuma.

Dh­lakama said the Catholic Church had agreed to me­di­ate, but did not say who in the church had made the prom­ise. He also claimed that Zuma was favourably dis­posed to the idea.

How­ever, Nkoana-masha­bane, who was in Ma­puto last week, flatly de­nied Dh­lakama’s claims.

She pointed out that Mozam­bique “has a demo­crat­i­cally elected govern­ment” and the op­po­si­tion sits in par­lia­ment. Thus, if some­body in the Mozam­bi­can op­po­si­tion were to ap­proach the South African govern­ment, the first thing Zuma’s Cab­i­net would do would be to speak to the Mozam­bi­can govern­ment.

But this did not arise be­cause the South African govern­ment had not been asked to play a me­di­at­ing role, ei­ther by Re­n­amo or by the govern­ment, Nkoana-masha­bane said.

Dh­lakama none­the­less in­sisted that Re­n­amo had sent a let­ter to Zuma via the South African High Com­mis­sion in Ma­puto and had re­ceived an en­cour­ag­ing re­sponse.

While Dh­lakama talks of me­di­a­tion, his mili­tia have re­turned to stag­ing am­bushes on the coun­try’s main north-south high­way. At about 6.30am on Thurs­day last week, Re­n­amo gun­men opened fire on five civil­ian ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing a health min­istry truck car­ry­ing medicines, about 12km from the town of Mux­u­ngue in the cen­tral prov­ince of So­fala. The ve­hi­cles were slightly dam­aged and three peo­ple in the ve­hi­cles sus­tained mi­nor in­juries.

The Mozam­bi­can po­lice have not yet de­cided whether to re­in­state a sys­tem of mil­i­tary con­voys along the road be­tween the Save River and Mux­u­ngue.

“Teams from the de­fence and se­cu­rity forces are on the ter­rain mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion,” So­fala po­lice spokesper­son Si­didi Paulo told re­porters. “De­pend­ing on the real con­di­tions ob­served on the ground, we will see whether it is nec­es­sary to rein­tro­duce the es­cort.”

The Save-mux­u­ngue stretch of road — about 100km — was one of the main the­atres of op­er­a­tions in Re­n­amo’s low-level in­sur­gency, mainly in So­fala prov­ince, in 2013-2014. Af­ter the first am­bushes, in late June 2013, the au­thor­i­ties de­cided the dan­ger was such that ve­hi­cles could only use the road in con­voy and un­der mil­i­tary es­cort.

This sys­tem re­mained in force un­til then pres­i­dent Ar­mando Gue­buza and Dh­lakama signed an agree­ment on the ces­sa­tion of mil­i­tary hos­til­i­ties on Septem­ber 5, 2014.

Re­n­amo, which never hon­oured the clauses in the agree­ment un­der which the Re­n­amo mili­tia should have been dis­armed, has now ripped up the ac­cord.

— African News Agency

Afonso Dh­lakama.

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