MOZAMBIQUE: Agreement on separating party & state, while Dhlakama orders ambush on army

dhlakama

dhlakama

By Joseph Hanlon

Renamo and the government signed an agreement Tuesday on the separation of party and state, while also on Tuesday Renamo president Afonso Dhlakama told the Portuguese press agency Lusa that he had ordered the 14 June ambush of an army patrol in Tete.

Attacks

“I gave the order” to attack when government troops had come within three kilometres of the Renamo base at Mucombeze, Moatize district, Tete, and were going to attack the base, Dhlakama told Lusa. He claimed 45 government soldiers were killed. Police spokesman Pedro Cossa said one policeman was killed and one was wounded in the ambush. The police told Lusa that the unit only consisted of three vehicles, two lorries carrying soldiers and supplies for a government military base, accompanied by a Land Cruiser with a machine gun mounted on it.

Dhlakama’s statement contradicted an earlier one by Renamo spokesperson Antonio Muchanga, who claimed that it was the army had attacked Renamo, while Dhlakama said it had ambushed the army to prevent an attack on its base. Dhlakama told Lusa that the Mucombeze base had already been moved three times to avoid army attacks, and he decided he did not want to move it again.

Dhlakama said that Renamo had suffered four other attacks by the army in the previous week, two in Funhalouro (Inhambane) and one each in Guija and Dindisa (Gaza).

Meanwhile, on Wednesday police said they arrested a Renamo member in Cheringoma, Sofala, with 46 AK-47 assault rifles.

And mediators confirmed after the weekly government-Renamo talks on Monday that deadlock remained on disarmament. Sheik Saide Habibo, speaking for the mediators, told reporters “Once again the two sides did not reach consensus on anything”. Government and Renamo were discussing different things, with no overlap between their positions. Habibo said Renamo’s priority was to get its officers into senior positions in the military, while the government wanted to disarm the Renamo militia.

Agreement

An agreement on separating party and state (Declaracao de Principios sobre a despartidarizacao da Funcao Publica) was signed on Tuesday by the head of the Renamo negotiators, Saimone Macuiana, and the head of the government team, Jose Pacheco. The declaration is said to be close to the one proposed by mediators in February and initially accepted by both sides. Renamo then added new demands, but after Renamo’s National Council meeting two weeks ago, Renamo head Dhlakama ordered the negotiating team to reach an agreement.

The key points of the agreement are that:
+ Civil servants including managers and rectors of public universities are prohibited from carrying out party-political activity during working hours.
+ Magistrates, ambassadors and members of the military and police are prohibited from all party-political activity.
+ Party-political and religious activity is prohibited in government workplaces and institutions.
+ There can be no party cells or units in public institutions.
+ There can be no automatic deductions from salaries for political parties.
+ Appointment of permanent secretaries, managers, chairs of public companies, and heads of administrative posts and localities should be by public competition. All phases of the tenders must be publicized, including the launch, the presentation of candidates, the presentation of the jury, and the results.
+ Public servants with business interests cannot influence or interfere with decisions on contracts.
+ Parliament will establish a commission to monitor the separation of parties from the state. It would consist of representatives of government, parliamentary political parties, and civil society.

The Declaration contains two unexpected points. First it requires the “strengthening of mechanisms for state recognition of traditional authorities, according to customary law which gains its legitimacy only by observing family lineage.” Second, it requires a reorganization of the Media Council (Conselho Superior da Comunicacao Social).

Pacheco called the Declaration “a redundant document, since its content is expressed in several laws that are already in force in the country”. O Pais (24 June) notes that in key respects, the Declaration is almost identical to the Public Probity Law which has been in force since 2012 (A Lei de Probidade Publica, lei no 15/2012) That law already bans “public servants at the workplace during normal working hours [from] promoting political, party or religious activities”. The law also bans party membership or political links from being taken into account in appointments, but does allow an exception for “appointments to positions of trust”.  Finally, conflict of interest in public tender decisions is already prohibited.

Nevertheless, the Declaration extends open competition for posts, for example to lower level rural administrative posts which have until now been party-linked nominations. And it contains prohibitions of a number of Frelimo actions during the 2014 election campaign that were already illegal but were never prosecuted.

The Principles must next be approved at a meeting of President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo head Afonso Dhlakama, and then submitted to parliament. MDM in February submitted a proposal for a law making public institutions non-party. Both proposals will be considered by parliament.

The MDM proposal is simpler and clearer than the joint Declaration, and is posted (in Portuguese) onhttp://bit.ly/1GBDb7z

Government and Renamo have also agreed to continue Monday talks on the two remaining points on the agenda, demobilisation of Renamo’s military force and, most importantly, financial issues.