MEA Risk – May 16, 2018: News and political life in Mozambique over the past fortnight have been largely dominated by the unexpected death of Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama on 3 May 2018. Dhlakama, one of the two top players in the ongoing peace talks, along with President Nyusi, died of diabetes complications before he could be evacuated from a Renamo military base in Gorongosa for medical treatment in South Africa. The death of Dhlakama, who was laid to rest in his remote birth village on 10 May, threw the country’s peace process into uncertainty, with most analysts fearing that a leadership crisis within Rernamo could threaten the work achieved so far in the peace talks.
For the period of 1 to 15 May 2018, there were 40 critical incidents in Mozambique, resulting in eight deaths, including that of Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, and 30 arrests. Incidents related to the Domestic & Regional Politics category accounted for 35% of the total incident pool, as a result of Mozambique being thrown into uncertainty with the death of the Renamo chief. Criminality accounted for 25%.
Renamo appointed Ossufo Momade as the interim leader to temporarily replace the late Afonso Dhlakama. Momade will lead Renamo on the temporary basis, during one of the most important periods of its history, until a permanent leader is selected. The challenge for Renamo now will be to find a personality that could fully replace Dhlakama, a process that is fraught of risk. Still, President Nyusi and top leaders of the ruling Frelimo party pledged to drive the talks forward and promised to cooperate with the next Renamo leadership.
Mozambican police announced that they were sheltering three women in Nangade who had escaped from the hideout of one of the groups responsible for the armed attacks on villages in that part of Cabo Delgado province. Also with them were at least three children.
Former policemen, expelled from the Mozambican police force, were reported by the Mozambican press as having assisted and trained the insurgents who have been targeting the northern province of Cabo Delgado. The information comes from two independent research bodies, the Institute of Economic and Social Studies and the Civil Society Support Mechanism, which makes the alarming claim that the insurgents have training bases both inside and outside the country. Meanwhile, authorities in Cabo Delgado say that everything is under control, a claim that many observers reject.
Five people were killed after a boat sank on 6 May in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado. Authorities say overcrowding and over-loading caused the shipwreck
The Mozambican police arrested 17 people following violent rioting that took place in the last weekend of April in the town of Manhica. The angry mob attempted to lynch a local businessman, accused of trafficking in human body parts, and caused damage and destruction.
The political risk in Mozambique has worsened by a notch with the death of Afonso Dhlakama, one of the two most important protagonists of the peace talks in the country. Having failed to fully prepare for his succession, Dhlakama leaves the Renamo party, and Mozambique in general, without a clear roadmap for a smooth transition. Despite pledges from the leadership of the opposing party, Frelimo and the government, include from the President himself, there is a risk that Renamo could follow the path of destabilization, should a leadership crisis happens. The appointment of an interim leader is the right step but is only the first step. The death of Dhlakama could also reignite violence from forces that oppose a political solution to the conflict. The coming three months will be crucial to Mozambique, as these issues are sorted out.
On the social/human front, superstitious believes remain a major problem in the Mozambican society, with violence erupting over issues of the sell of body part, as was the case north of the capital of Maputo. The riots resulted in 17 arrests, and highlight the role superstitious believes play in the Mozambican society. While criminality is relatively low in Mozambique, in comparison to African countries with the same level of economic development, Mozambique will continue to witness continued moderate levels of kidnapping, murder, and other types of criminality. Drug trafficking and the illegal destruction of natural resources for commercial purposes will remain a major focal point to authorities going forward.
On the economic front, there has been no major release of macro economic data over the past fortnight, confirming that the fundamentals of economic outlook have not changed. Mozambique will continue to struggle domestically, despite the countries on its way to building a major natural gas hub in Cabo Delgado. The trickling effects of the Rovuma gas project will not be fully felt for several years, while Mozambique struggles to convince its international partners to resume their activities in the country. The death of Renamo chief Dhlakama represents another wildcard in the economic outlook, with investors remaining uncertain as to the stability of Mozambique in the coming months and years.
|Leader of RENAMO|
|In office |
17 October 1979 – 3 May 2018
|Preceded by||André Matsangaissa|
|Born|| 1 January 1953|
Muxúngue, Sofala Province
Portuguese Mozambique
|Died||3 May 2018 (aged 65).|
Gorongosa, Sofala Province, Mozambique
Afonso Marceta Macacho Dhlakama (1 January 1953 – 3 May 2018) was a Mozambican politician and the leader of RENAMO, an anti-communist guerrilla movement that fought the FRELIMO government in the Mozambican Civil War before signing a peace agreement and becoming an opposition political party in the early 1990s. Dhlakama was born in Muxúngue, Sofala Province.
Mozambican Civil War
After RENAMO's first leader, André Matsangaissa, was killed by Mozambican government forces in 1979, Dhlakama became leader. By 1984, Dhalakama was both commander in chief of RENAMO's forces and head of the governing body, the 12-member executive council. As leader of RENAMO Dhlakama sought to destabilise the FRELIMO government through guerilla strategies. Under his command RENAMO reached the peak of its power, controlling large parts of the country, especially in the north and being able to carry out raids virtually anywhere outside the major cities. In its fight RENAMO was supported by conservative circles in some western countries, including the United States, West Germany, and most importantly by the white led governments of Rhodesia and South Africa to whom FRELIMO-ruled Mozambique was a target due to its support of rebel movements within their countries. However, the end of the cold war, the collapse of Rhodesia's Smith government and, most importantly, the transition taking place in South Africa eventually deprived RENAMO of its financial supporters and arms suppliers. Thus, RENAMO and FRELIMO, which had also lost its supporters from the eastern power block, finally signed a peace treaty in October 1992. RENAMO subsequently transformed itself into a legal political party under the continued leadership of Afonso Dhlakama.
Allegation of war crimes and crimes against humanity
According to the US State Department and some other sources, under Dhlakama's leadership RENAMO systematically committed crimes against humanity as part of its war effort. These include mass killing and mutilation of non-combatants during raids on villages and towns as well as systematically forcing civilians into RENAMO's employment, though FRELIMO had used similar methods during its fight against the Portuguese. What differed was the abduction of children to use them as child soldiers. It is estimated that one third of RENAMO forces were under 18. Abducted people also had to serve RENAMO in administrative or public service functions in the areas it controlled. Refusing to work for RENAMO would be punished by heavy beating or even on-the-spot execution as were flight attempts, though this was also used by FRELIMO. One particularly gruesome practice was the mutilation and killing of children left behind by escaped parents.
Post-Civil War activity
Dhlakama has competed as the RENAMO candidate in all three multiparty presidential elections held in Mozambique. In 1994, he was defeated by incumbent President and FRELIMO candidate Joaquim Chissano by a margin of 53.3% to 33.7%. He received 47.7% of the vote in the 1999 presidential election with Chissano capturing 52.3%. In the December 2004 presidential election, he was defeated by FRELIMO candidate Armando Guebuza, who received 63.7% of the vote to his 31.7%.
International observers to the elections criticised the fact that the National Electoral Commission (CNE) did not conduct entirely fair and transparent elections. They listed a whole range of serious shortcomings by the electoral authorities that benefited the ruling party FRELIMO. Some believe that the pronounced outcome of the parliamentary election and thus the distribution of seats in the National Assembly does not reflect the will of the Mozambican people.
Upon the creation of the Council of State, a body tasked with advising the President, Dklahama was included on the Council due to his role as leader of the opposition; he and the other members of the Council were sworn in on 23 December 2005. He said that he accepted his seat on the Council for the sake of national stability.
Although RENAMO was apparently weakened by the defection of Daviz Simango, who formed a new party, Dhlakama was re-elected for another five-year term as RENAMO leader on 22 July 2009 at a party congress in Nampula Province, defeating another candidate, Rogerio Francisco Joao. He was RENAMO's candidate in the October 2009 presidential election.
Dhlakama repeatedly threatened to reestablish RENAMO's armed forces and to let the country "burn". In 2011 he stated that RENAMO was preparing a "revolution" to rid the government from power and establishing new barracks for this purpose.
In October 2012 Dhlakama relocated to RENAMO's former headquarters near Casa Banana in Gorongosa and set up a training camp for several hundred partially armed followers. He threatened to destroy the country if his political demands were not met. However, the local press considered this threat to be another bluff, doubting that Dhlakama had the means to start any serious insurrection.
In April 2013, Renamo militants attacked the riot police's headquarters in the central Mozambican town of Muxungue. Four policemen and a civilian were confirmed dead, while ten servicemen were hospitalised. According to the police, the leader of the attackers was also killed. The attackers were trying to free fifteen of their comrades who had been arrested in a police raid on a Renamo camp the day before. Police claimed that Renamo was conducting illegal military training at the camp. A Renamo spokesman pronounced that "Our demobilised soldiers will retaliate against any attack and not only in the location where it occurs, but across the entire country, including [...] Maputo." Dhlakama later confirmed that he had personally ordered the attack on the police post.
On 17 October 2013, suspected RENAMO guerrillas ambushed a military patrol near Gorongosa, RENAMO's stronghold, killing seven soldiers, according to local media. Further clashes followed and, in response, on 21 October, FADM forces captured Sathunjira base after days of combat. RENAMO spokesman Fernando Mazanga claimed that the government forces had shelled the base with heavy weapons (artillery), and that Dhlakama had fled the base. A RENAMO statement said that the capture of the base put an end to the 1992 peace deal.
2014 Peace Process
On 5 September 2014 Dhlakama and president Guebuza signed a peace deal in an effort to end the two-year period of instability. The deal included integration of RENAMO forces into the army and a reform of the election oversight commission. However, after RENAMO's refusal to accept the 2014 presidential elections, problems in the implementation of the peace deal and after continued efforts by government forces to disarm RENAMO met resistance, Dhlakama broke off the peace process in August 2015. Since then there have been renewed clashes between government and RENAMO forces. Dhlakama claimed there were two attempts by the government to assassinate him.
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