Foreign mediators “will not solve” political crisis in Mozambique – David Simango

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The leader of the MDM and mayor of Beira (Sofala Province), Daviz Simango, argues that foreign mediators “will not solve” the political crisis in Mozambique, and that Mozambicans will have to solve their own problems.

Mozambique’s largest opposition party, Renamo, has demanded the presence of international mediators as a pre-condition for the resumption of negotiations with the government. Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama has formally invited personalities for the European Union, South Africa and the Catholic Church and announced that the mediators were expected to arrive in Mozambique during the course of the week 8 to 15 July.

But Mayor Simango says that the solution to the county’s current political tension has to be found internally, and wants the government and Renamo to stop monopolising the affairs of the country, arguing that over-centralisation of power is one of the causes of the political crisis.

Deutsche Welle Africa interviewed Mayor Simango on the political and economic situation of the country.

Deutsche Welle (DW): How is the MDM positioned in terms of the political crisis and how it is it pursuing its goals, as a party with seats in parliament?

Daviz Simango (DS): We try to convince both parties, both in the Assembly and in the meetings, that we want them to understand, in the first place, that the future of the country cannot depend on just two political forces. These two forces have their history; they have contributed to the country’s development and the construction of Mozambican society, but the world is dynamic and we need to involve other political forces as well as civil society in the Mozambican dialogue process.

And we must remember that in Mozambique we have about 24 million people; the voters number about 10 million, but of those only four million voted. So the people who elected the government are a minority in relation to the entire population, which is being excluded from the dialogue process.

DW: You have talked about greater autonomy on the issue of governors. Renamo also demands the end of the centralisation of power, and recently President Filipe Nyusi indicated his intention to initiate decentralisation in Mozambique. Are you all using the term ‘decentralisation’ in the same way, or do you have different perspectives on the concept?

DS: I think there are different perspectives. The government speaks of gradual decentralisation, while the MDM says that there can be no gradualism, let’s move forward to effective decentralisation, throughout the national territory. Naturally there will be empty spaces, and these will have to have special treatment.

As for Renamo, it speaks of provincial authorities and provincial councils. The MDM does not speak about that. What Renamo wants is that in the provincial authorities there is a governor, a president of the provincial council and a mayor. It’s a lot of people for a poor country, it is a lot of confusion in terms of the boundaries of office functions.

What we want, in fact, is that the governor is elected in two ways: [as] the head of [the electoral] list and elected directly. And the MDM also wants local authorities, because it is an issue of power and economy. If we map out, all over the country, where civil society, politicians and parties can apply for these municipal elections, we will avoid the risks. In Satunjira, Maringué, Inhambane, Gaza, anywhere; each will have its territory to manage.

DW: How can you secure such a change? Can the MDM, as a political party with a parliamentary presence, request a change of the governance system in Mozambique?

DS: Right now, we can’t, because the MDM doesn’t have the two-thirds majority [required for this parliamentary initiative]. It depends on our peers. So this is an exercise that has to be carried out on the basis of mutual understanding. Because, if the war and disagreement among Mozambicans is a political and economic problem, then let us make small adjustments to allow the exercise of political power across the country and, from there, of economic power, because all the resources will be there in the municipal authorities and at the level of provincial governments.

DW: A new stage in negotiations aimed at ending the political crisis in Mozambique is supposed to begin soon, with the participation of foreign mediators. What are your expectations regarding this matter?

DS: Mediators will not solve the Mozambican problem. Maybe they will bring their skills to try to convince the parties to live in a civilised state. Mozambique today does not live in a civilised state, that’s what mediators can persuade the parties. But Mozambicans have to solve the problems of Mozambicans. And other parts of Mozambican society must be represented in this dialogue, alongside the political parties.

We cannot continue to think that the only two parties can represent the national interests. Especially as the two political parties only have a small number of voters in a population of 24 million people. These two parties represent a maximum of four million Mozambicans. Are the other 20 million to be excluded from the process?

We are not against mediators or observers, but neither party can tell us if they are mediators or observers, and there is no clear description of what they will do. And we also have prior experience. We had EMOCHIM [Military Team of International Observers of the Cessation of Armed Hostilities] which had lots of mediators. Everything was tried, but in vain. Lots of money was wasted, everyone got their perks but it didn’t resolve anything.

Mozambique’s problems have to be solved by Mozambicans, involving all parties. The other parties have only to do their part, but they will not solve the problems while Mozambicans do not have their feet on the ground.

Source: Deutsche Welle

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