Mediators cause confusion
as war escalates

President TUSK meets the President of Mozambique Filipe NYUSI

President TUSK meets the President of Mozambique Filipe NYUSI

Image by European Council President

Attempts by mediators to push the talks forward created confusion and discord and seem to have left government and Renamo more entrenched in their positions. Meanwhile the war escalated, with Renamo attacks on towns and visits by President Nyusi to war affected areas.

Government denies
agreed statement promises
Renamo governors soon

”With respect to [the first point on the agenda], “Governance of Renamo in the six provinces,” legal mechanisms must be found for interim appointments of provincial governors coming from the Renamo Party as soon as possible,” states a paragraph in a one page statement drafted by the mediators and signed Wednesday 17 August by negotiators on both sides. (In Portuguese: “
Sobre o ‘Governacao da Renamo nas seis Provincias’, devem ser encontrados mecanismos legais para nomeacao provisoria dos governadores provinciais oriundos do Partido Renamo o mais cedo possivel.”)

This was immediately reported in the electronic media as a concession by government that some Renamo governors would be named, and that it would happen soon. Jacinto Veloso, head of the government negotiating team, rushed out a statement that afternoon denying that interpretation, and saying it must be seen in the context of the whole joint statement. (O Pais 18 Aug has both statements; the joint statement is also on

Veloso argues that the phrase “as soon as possible” was “perhaps an error” because it must take into account that legislation must be approved by parliament, and that nothing is agreed until the whole package is agreed by President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo head Afonso Dhlakama when they meet sometime in the future. And there is nothing to say that Renamo governors have been agreed: “It could be zero provinces, it could be two, it could be five, or even more” - this has to be negotiated in the national interest. In a press conference Veloso added that there was no chance that Renamo governors could be named before 2019 election - it would be "unacceptable to the government and out of the question."

He also argued that this paragraph, the penultimate in the statement, must be seen in the context of the main agreement, which was simply to pass the issue of Renamo’s demand for six governors to a subcommittee of the negotiators which, with the presence of mediators, would draft legislation to be presented to parliament. Thus the issues is moved forward without so far resolving any of the substantive issues, such as how governors are to be selected or elected.

The statement says “the matter should be discussed in the framework of national unity and the administrative decentralization process, giving greater decision-making powers to local state organs, including financial resources and decentralized election/appointment of Provincial Governors.” The statement says that the subcommittee will prepare a legislative packet consisting of constitutional amendments and changes to six laws on provincial administration and finance, and take a new look at a 1994 law on elected district councils which was passed by parliament but then decided to be unconstitutional and never revised or resubmitted. 

Finally the statement says that the package must be ready to go to parliament by the end of November. Veloso said he said in the negotiating session that this was “unrealistic”, but Renamo and the mediators wanted it left it.

The subcommittee met for six hours on Thursday (18 Aug) and the entire joint commission met for four hours in the late afternoon discussing a truce or ceasefire, and a way for the mediators to meet Dhlakama. Mediators on Friday (19 Aug) met separately with the two sides. The next meeting isMonday 22 August.

Comment: The Wednesday statement is confusing, but does involve small concessions on both sides. Government does appear to have accepted faster decentralization and at least some Renamo governors, while Renamo has accepted the phrase “national unity”, which will be interpreted as a unitary, centralised state and not federalism. 

Veloso’s reply is much longer than the original statement and points to the sharp divisions within Frelimo. In retrospect, an unusual statement made by President Nyusi now looks aimed at the Frelimo hardline; speaking in Inhassoro, Inhambane on 11 August, he said that the people in the negotiating team "are serious, competent, experience and adults. They cannot be treated as errand boys [
meninos de recados]." (O Pais 12 Aug) Did Veloso come under pressure from Frelimo hardliners who see him simply as an errand boy and feel he made more concessions than he was permitted, as suggested by Savana (19 Aug), or did he feel the need to argue that the paper represented no concessions?  jh

Dhlakama says no
to power sharing

Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama rejects anything that suggests power sharing in an interview given 16 August to Savana (19 Aug). He rejects any suggestion of a post such as vice president because “it is impossible to work with the party Frelimo.” Frelimo “is still Marxist.” He said that he was in Frelimo when he was young, and that “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.” Morgan Tsvangirai was Prime Minister of Zimbabwe in a power sharing government from 2009 to 2013.

On governing the six provinces, he says he will not accept a solution under which the President appoints people named by Dhlakama or in which Nyusi and Dhlakama jointly discuss the governors. "If I give a list to Nyusi, it seems that I am offering Renamo officials to work with Frelimo policies. We won’t go there.” Instead, “there must be a constitutional amendment that says that the provinces are now governed by the winning party,” and a law to give the provinces financial autonomy. Provincial government “must be on the basis of Renamo policies.”

The government says it accepts more decentralisation before the 2019 election, and there is also a discussion of allowing the elected provincial assemblies to nominate governors. But the core question is: How much power and revenue will be decentralised to the provinces? In his press conference Wednesday, Veloso said “Renamo says it will govern with its programme, but this is not possible because that would be creating a state inside another.”

Dhlakama added: “The whole world knows that Nyusi did not win the elections, yet he governs. … If he governs without winning, why not close our eyes and accept that the party that won governs in those provinces?”

Finally, Dhlakama demands that since the mediators have met with Nyusi, they must also come to his base in Satunjira, Gorongosa, and meet with him. “We have talked on the telephone but that is not enough.” He has proposed a demilitarised corridor, monitored by three Renamo commanders, three government commanders, and an independent person. Alternatively, he would like to declare a truce to allow a meeting, but only if the government withdraws its troops from around the Gorongosa mountain.

Post-war “reconciliation failed, because we lost the spirit of tolerance and co-existence with our differences.” This had been necessary to reach the peace accord, but was lost afterwards, commented Teodato Hunguana, in a speech on 10 August. As a result, “We are again in a war situation that has the risk of becoming widespread.” (Savana 12 August)

Renamo stepping up attacks

The Defence Ministry says there were 17 Renamo attacks in five provinces between 8 July and 18 August. There were 4 attacks in Sofala, 3 each in Niassa, Zambezia and Tete and 2 in Manica, as well as isolated killings in Inhambane. (AIM En 19 Aug) There were three more attacks Saturday. In his interview in Savana (19 Aug), Afonso Dhlakama said that the increase in attacks spread across the country was to force the government to spread out its troops and reduce their concentration near his Gorongosa base. “This is a military strategy,” he said. “It’s in the books.”

Meanwhile Filipe Nyusi travelled to Mancia as part of a new policy of holding rallies in war affected areas. He arrived by helicopter, but journalists and others travelled by road. Cars carrying journalists to a Nyusi rally in Macossa, Manica, were shot at on 12 August on the N7 in Chiuala, Barue, Manica. This is a zone of frequent attacks and is on the part of the N7 between Vanduzi, Manica, and Changara, Tete, with military convoys. (Lusa 12 Aug). Savana (19 Aug) reported that in the convoy there were also cars from the state electricity company EDM carrying soldiers. And in hisSavana (19 Aug) interview, Dhlakama claimed that four members of the riot police (FIR, Forca de Intervencao Rapida, also known as Unidade de Intervencao Rapida) were killed in that attack. He added that anyone who goes on a convoy knows they are “entering a zone of 100% risk” because this is a war zone, thus it is their own fault if they are shot.

The various press reports also make clear that on the government side the war is being fought by the riot police, which is a seen as a trained and loyal paramilitary force, and not by the army, which is not trusted and seems limited to shelling Gorongosa. For example Diario da Zambezia and Zitamar (15 Aug) report that after an attack on Morrumbala town, Zambezia, on 12 August in which the police station was occupied and 23 prisoners freed, the district office attacked, and medicines taken from the local hospital, that two FIR brigades were moved from Sabe and Nicoadala to Morrumbala.

Other recent attacks:

Muaquia, Majune, Niassa - 20 August - attack by group of 13; one raider shot and captured.

Trinta, Localidade Zero, Morrumbala, Zambezia - 20 August - two attacks, houses burned.
Mepinha, Morrumbala, Zambezia - 18 August - public buildings attacked, no details. (AIM En 19 Aug)

Barue, Manica - 13 or 14 August - N7 convoy attacked, 1 dead. Reported that attacks are frequent.

Nhamatanda, Sofala - 11 August - police repel an attack and detain one person.

Mboza, Moatize, Tete - 1 August - police station attacked and car burned

88 companies closed in Zambezia due to the war and economic crisis, putting 319 people out of work. Beira port has suffered a sharp reduction in traffic due to attacks on the railway and roads. (Noticas 17, 19 Aug) Prakash Prehlad, head of the Beira commercial association, said when you walk down the street it is obvious that businesses have closed because of the war. (O Pais 18 Aug)

Portucel wrote off €14.5 mn from the value of its timber plantations in Mozambique, because "the political and economic situation in the country is unstable, which presents additional challenges, in terms of the safety of everyone involved and also the security of supplies of products, materials and services needed for the project. Pressure on the Metical has resulted in inflation, a problem which became serious in 2015 and continues to increase." A major Portucel plantation is being developed in Barue, Manica, where there have been repeated attacks.

Refugees: There are still 4,400 refugees from Tete and Zambezia living in two camps in Malawi, down from a peak of 11,500, according to a report from the Mozambican Human Rights League (LDH). Most refugees interviewed by LDH said they were fleeing the war, and most of those blamed government forces. LDH says there were reports of 13 people (eight in Tete and five in Zambezia) who were summarily executed by the government forces, because they were believed to be members or supporters of Renamo. Many of the interviewees accused the defence forces of burning and vandalizing houses and barns. LDH also identified three people murdered by Renamo. The report was released on 18 August.

Who killed 6
in Cheringoma?

Six people were killed when there car was stopped at Nangue, Cheringoma, Sofala on 12 August. There were eight people in the car, six Mozambicans and two Bangaldeshi traders. One Mozambicans and one Bangladeshi escaped and told their story to STV. Their car was stopped by people in police uniforms. They were told to get out of the car and line up, and the "police" started to shoot them; two people escaped, the six bodies were put in the car which was set on fire. Some media (STV, @Verdade) has accepted the witness statements at face value, that the executions were done by the police. But the police claim it was Renamo guerrillas in police uniforms.

Attack map    We have produced a map that shows the areas where there have been attacks reported in the past four months, and the three routes with armed convoys. The file is too large to send on our list/serve, but you can download a copy of this newsletter with the map from



News reports & clippings
21 August 2016

Editor: Joseph Hanlon (

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