(2015-07-21) Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Sunday categorically rejected the demand by Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the former rebel movement Renamo, that he should be allowed to govern six provinces in the centre and north of the country.
Nyusi was speaking in Paris, at a meeting with Mozambicans resident in France, one of whom asked whether Dhlakama’s demand should be seen as part of the decentralisation of governance.
The President replied that Dhlakama’s call for “autonomy” in those provinces where he won a majority of votes in the 15 October presidential election was not in line with the country’s electoral legislation.
Just as Paris St-Germain had won the French football championship, but did not win every match, so the winner in a Mozambican presidential election does not need to come top of the poll in every province, he argued.
“Why can’t I be the champion, if I won the largest number of votes?”, asked Nyusi.
Just as football championships are fought and won on the basis of rules known in advance and accepted by all competitors, so in elections the legislation is fixed in advance and accepted by the various candidates and parties competing, and those rules cannot be changed after the event.
If the Mozambican electoral laws have to be changed, that will be for the next elections, and not for ones that have already taken place, Nyusi said.
Furthermore, as President, he could not change the law. Responding to the argument that he should negotiate the governance of the provinces directly with Dhlakama, Nyusi said that it was the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, and not the President, that must make any changes to the law.
Dhlakama said nothing about “provincial autonomy” during last year’s election campaign, and there is not a word about the subject in the Renamo election manifesto. Yet since February of this year, it has become the Renamo battle cry, with Dhlakama threatening that, if he is not allowed to rule the provinces he wants, then he will take them by force.
Nyusi told his audience he will do all in his power to ensure that the country does not return to war. Instead, peace should be seen as “a natural part” of the life of Mozambicans.
Asked how his government will protect Mozambican territorial waters, he said everything is being done to guarantee the safety of shipping in the Mozambique Channel and to put an end to illegal fishing.
“We are more than determined to ensure that our Mozambique Channel should be a secure route”, Nyusi said. “That’s why, when I was forming my government, I decided to set up a specific ministry to look after our waters (he was referring to the new Ministry of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries). Previously we neglected the defence of our waters. We have had cases of illegal fishing, and even the presence of some pirates”.
“That cannot continue to happen”, he stressed, “because some of our greatest riches are in these territorial waters, and so we have to do everything to guarantee their defence”. He gave no details.
As for the reasons for his three day visit to France, Nyusi said he wished to urge the French authorities and French businesses to increase their cooperation with Mozambique. Currently France is the tenth largest investor in Mozambique.
Nyusi said the cooperation he is interested in “should bring concrete results, and should not be limited to declarations of interest”.
He added he wanted cooperation with all countries in the areas where they have special expertise. “If, for example, France is good at fisheries, we shall cooperate with France in that area. If China is better in agriculture, w shall cooperate with China in that field”, he said. “Thus we shall cooperate with all countries in the areas where we note that they have attained mastery”.
The point of cooperation, he repeated, “is to obtain concrete results, and not just because it’s a friendly country”.
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