Tichaona Zindoga Political Editor
Mozambican rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama, who has been fighting government in a bloody civil war that has lasted close to four decades, has revealed that he is friends with Mr Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition MDC-T in Zimbabwe.
Mr Dhlakama revealed this in an interview with a Mozambican newspaper Savana, as he rejected a power sharing agreement that has been proposed by the ruling party, Frelimo, that would see him assume the position of vice president.
According to the newspaper, one time a member of the ruling party, Mr Dhlakama says “to be vice president signifies being Frelimo again.”
“Also, he doesn’t want to happen to him, ‘what happened to my friend Tsvangirai, who eventually disappeared,’” said the paper.
Mr Tsvangirai became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in the inclusive Government between 2009 and 2013.
He and his party lost the subsequent elections of July 31, 2013 as Zanu-PF romped to over two-thirds majority in Parliament while Tsvangirai lost dismally to President Mugabe by a margin of 34 percent to 61 percent of the votes cast.
Contacted for comment on the nature of relations between MDC-T and Renamo, MDC-T spokesman Mr Obert Gutu professed ignorance on the nature of the relationship between his boss and Dhlakama.
“Of course, I will not be able to know all president Morgan Tsvangirai’s personal friends and acquaintances. He is entitled to have his own private space, just like any other individual.”
Mr Tsvangirai has in the past visited Mozambique to interact with his opposition counterpart.
Since 2000 he has met Mr Dhlakama a number of times.
The most significant of these interactions came in April 2008, after the elections of March that year when Mr Tsvangirai canvassed for regional support.
The visit is confirmed by WikiLeaks in a leaked US cable dated April 23, 2008.
It says, “The visit was personally coordinated by the leader of Mozambique’s opposition party Renamo, Afonso Dhlakama, who arranged for Tsvangirai to meet with former president Joaquim Chissano and current president Armando Guebuza.”
The cable says Dhlakama told the Press on April 24 that he advised Tsvangirai that Chissano could only get involved in finding a solution for Zimbabwe if the heads of state of Sadc requested that he do so while President Guebueza had not yet commented on the content of his meeting with Tsvangirai.
The cable concludes: “ . . . Tsvangirai did himself no favours . . . by so publicly . . . aligning himself with Renamo’s leader Dhlakama. Always the opportunist, Dhlakama took the spotlight during Tsvangirai’s visit, positioning himself as a senior mediator who is working to ensure regional democracy.”