Mozambique: Henriques Dhlakama Claims Renamo Will Support Him

Maputo — Henriques Dhlakama, son of Afonso Dhlakama, the late leader of Mozambique’s main opposition party, Renamo, has boasted that he will win the 2024 presidential election with the support of Renamo – even though he is not a member of Renamo and has never done any political work for Renamo.

Dhlakama is the only person to date who has declared his intention to run in the 2024 elections. None of the main political parties have yet announced their presidential candidates and, based on past experience, they are unlikely to do so until 2023 or even 2024.

In a lengthy interview published in Monday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Carta de Mocambique”, Dhlakama claimed that he is “ideologically aligned” with Renamo, but has no desire to lead the party.

One curious aspect of this interview is that Dhlakama refused to speak face to face with the “Carta de Mocambique” reporter. The paper had to send him its questions in writing, and it took him a week to reply. The suspicion must be that the replies were written by Dhlakama’s Portuguese advisers.

Dhlakama was sent to Portugal by his father, and former members of the Portuguese security services are known to have provided the Dhlakama family with support. He attended secondary school and university in Portugal, studying management and accountancy.

He has no political track record at all. “I am not, and never was, a member of Renamo, and I never said I was”, he said. “I do not obey or submit to rules which do not concern me. Renamo is the party which best reflects my own political convictions. But I am a free citizen with the right to express my opinion”.

He claimed to respect Renamo’s current leader, Ossufo Momade, but also denounced him as “incapable”. He claimed that Momade “seems to have lost the base of support which elected him. So he has no choice but to submit himself quickly to a new election. If he is re-elected, very well. If he is not, somebody else will be – but it won’t be me”.

Momade was elected President of Renamo at a Renamo Congress in January 2019.There is unlikely to be another Renamo congress before the 2024 elections.

Dhlakama accused the current Renamo leadership of being “amateurs and displaced from reality”. But he added that Renamo has “very competent cadres” and “they must make the leadership see reason. Otherwise they will be destroying Renamo, and it will probably be finished in 2024, when, if they are lucky, they will elect just half a dozen parliamentary deputies”.

He claimed he has no link with the dissident faction calling itself the “Renamo Military Junta”, and has never met its leader, Mariano Nhongo (whom he called “General”, a rank that Nhongo has awarded to himself). He said that Nhongo has “a positive vision” for the future of Mozambique, although he is best known for ordering a series of murderous ambushes against vehicles using the main roads in the central provinces of Manica and Sofala.

He boasted that Renamo will eventually support his presidential ambitions. “Renamo will support me, if it wants to reach government and not just play at politics”, he said.

Asked how he would finance his election campaign, he said that his campaign finances “will be transparent and based on donations from anyone who is interested in seeing Mozambique become a dynamic state”.

Dhlakama boasted that his candidacy “is a unique opportunity in the history of Mozambique. I will not discriminate against anybody. I am the candidate of all Mozambicans. I only answer to the Mozambican people and I have no links to any political party”.

He claimed he is working “with various national and local structures in the hope that they will give official support to my candidacy”, but did not name any of these bodies.

As for policies for a future government, Dhlakama clearly expected these to come from his advisers. “We are drawing up a profound document, with the contribution of top specialists in various areas (including Mozambicans) and who have an equally profound knowledge of the terrain”, he said. He did not name any of these “specialists”.

The major obstacle that Dhlakama faces is that any candidate running for the presidency must be nominated by at least 10,000 registered Mozambican voters, whose signatures must all be recognized by a public notary. Recent Mozambican history has shown that only organized political parties are able to collect these signatures.

Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique