Maputo (AIM) – The Mozambican rebel movement Renamo on Wednesday submitted new proposals for laws on decentralisation to the Joint Commission set up between the government and Renamo.
Reading out a statement to reporters on Wednesday night, after five hours of discussion behind closed doors, Mario Raffaelli, the Italian coordinator of the international mediating team, gave no details of the Renamo proposals, other than that they covered the seven points mentioned in the document agreed by the two sides on 17 August.
That document was written as a response to the Renamo demand that it be allowed to appoint governors in the six central and northern provinces (Sofala, Manica, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa) where it claims to have won the 2014 general elections. It put forward a package of seven points to be included in future constitutional amendments and new or amended legislation.
The most important of these points is the constitutional amendment necessary to change the way in which provincial governors (and other local state bodies) are appointed or elected. There will also be amendments to the Law on Local State Bodies and its regulations, the Law on Provincial Assemblies, and the Law on the Organisation and Functioning of the Public Administration. New laws are to be drafted on the bodies of the provincial governments, and on provincial finances.
Finally, the 1994 law on “municipal districts” will be “re-examined”. This law would have made each and every district a municipality. It was never implemented, but was replaced by a gradual approach to municipalisation. Thus initially only the 23 urban areas with city status, plus ten towns (one in each province) were granted municipal status, with directly elected mayors and municipal assemblies. Subsequently, 20 more towns have become municipalities, raising the total number of towns and cities where municipal elections were held in 2013 to 53.
According to Raffaelli, in the space of less than a month, Renamo has managed to draft proposals on all of these complex issues. He added that a government document delivered to the mediators promised that the government side will analyse the Renamo proposals.
But there was no advance whatever on the key issue of halting Renamo’s armed attacks, and dismantling the Renamo militia. The government is ready for an immediate suspension of hostilities, but Renamo is refusing to put down its weapons until the government withdraws its forces from the Gorongosa mountain range, near the bush camp where Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama is currently living.
The government refuses to make such a unilateral withdrawal of forces, arguing that it has a responsibility to defend the people of the region against Renamo attacks.
Renamo is even making the withdrawal of government forces from their positions a pre-condition for a meeting between Dhlakama and the mediators. Since Dhlakama refuses to travel to Maputo, the mediators propose to meet him in the bush – but Renamo is refusing to establish a demilitarized corridor to allow this to happen.
The Renamo proposals on decentralization are now with the technical sub-commission set up in August, which will meet on Thursday to consider them.
The full Joint Commission is due to meet again on Monday. It is nowhere near achieving the purpose for which it was set up – namely to arrange a face-to-face meeting between Dhlakama and President Filipe Nyusi.