MAPUTO. — The low level conflict between Mozambique’s former civil war foes escalated recently, but now there is fresh hope of peace.
On Wednesday the government and rebel movement Renamo were to sign a new peace accord under which the rebels would be integrated into Mozambique’s police and armed forces.
In return the government has secured consent from the rebels that “no party would in future be allowed to keep its own armed troops”.
This point was particularly important for the government because Renamo had maintained a rebel force of several hundred fighters in contravention of the 1992 peace deal.
Both sides have agreed on the wording to the new accord, but it is as yet unclear how its implementation is to be verified or monitored.
“The outcome of our negotiations is intended to address the concerns we have for lasting peace and stability in the country,” said chief Renamo negotiator Saimone Macuiane. But the deal was delayed on Wednesday because a number of outstanding questions could not be resolved in time.
Until very recently it looked as if the conflict in Mozambique was about to escalate. At the beginning of June, Renamo announced the end of a ceasefire and intensified its attacks. One reason why peace now appears possible could be the upcoming elections in October.
Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama wants to run again as its candidate for presidential candidate. But in order to take part in the election campaign he will have to emerge from his hiding place in Gorongosa National Park.
Because of the conflict, Renamo did not field candidates at the municipal elections in November 2013 and was forced to watch from the sidelines how another opposition party, Movement for a Democratic Mozambique (MDM), was able to substantially increase its share of the vote.
The ruling Frelimo party has a vested interest in putting an end to the low level conflict because of the damage it causes to the Mozambican economy.
Coal exports have been impeded by attacks several times, tourism has fallen off and foreign investors are getting nervous.
It is also politically expedient for Frelimo, which has ruled Mozambique since independence from Portugal in 1975, for the opposition vote to be divided into two, between Renamo and MDM.
Will the new peace agreement last? This depends on the October elections, among other things.
“The elections have to be fair and transparent — the parties have to reach an understanding with one another,” Mozambican analyst Silverio Ronguane told Deutsche Welle.
He recalled that previous elections have been marred by serious allegations of fraud but is optimistic that this poll will be fair.
“I’m confident that Mozambicans, too, can live with defeat at the polls as long as it is the outcome of a process that is above board; a process in which there are clear rules and in which everybody has the opportunity to achieve a good result, assuming they make the effort,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Armando Guebuza has indicated that elections pencilled for October 15 will go ahead as scheduled despite deadlocked talks.
Frelimo’s presidential candidate Mr Jacinto Filipe Nyusi on July 28 paid a courtesy call on President Mugabe where the Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces expressed confidence that Frelimo would romp to victory, the same way Zanu-PF did in last year’s July 31 harmonised elections.
“Zanu-PF and Frelimo are one, so their candidate is our candidate,” said President Mugabe. “We will also support them. We wish him well. We wish him success.
“We will not say anything because we know that people will always chose those who have their interest at heart. You have Renamo there which is like MDC and you know what happened last year on July 31. That is what is going to happen on 15 October (in Mozambique’s election). We say victory is certain. Aluta continua.”
Mr Nyusi said his objective would be to improve the bilateral relations that exist between Harare and Maputo.
“My objective will be to improve the relationship between Zanu-PF and Frelimo, but now I am running for election as President for the Republic of Mozambique,” he said. “It means improving our relationship between Zimbabwe and Mozambique, mainly in the economic area.” — Deutsche Welle/Herald Reporters.