Mozambique: Talks With Mediators Yesterday and Today

Talks between Renamo and government resumed yesterday, with mediators present.

After a formal meeting, the mediators met separately with the Renamo and government teams in parliament. The three teams (6 government, 6 Renamo, 6 mediators) will begin actual discussions at a meeting today in the Hotel Avenida. (Noticias & O Pais, 20 & 21 July; Zitamar & AIM 20 July)

Renamo and the government each asked three eminent people or institutions to name mediators. Renamo identified the European Union, the Vatican, and South African president Jacob Zuma. The government identified three former presidents and prime ministers: Ketumule Masire (Botswana), Jakaya Kikwete (TanzAnia) and Tony Blair (UK). It appears that most of the six will have at least two people and in some cases more present in Maputo; all six were represented at the session yesterday.

The Vatican named its ambassador in Maputo (the Papal Nuncio) Edgar Pena and the secretary of the Mozambique Episcopal Conference, Joao Carlos Hatoa Nunes. The EU named Mario Raffaelli and Angelo Romano. The South African selected mediator has not been named, but Noticias (21 July) says they were present when President Filipe Nyusi met with the Renamo selected mediators yesterday. Nyusi took a hard line, telling the mediators they had to respect the Mozambican constitution and laws. (O Pais 21 July)

Raffaelli is an Italian politician who was the chief mediator of the 1990-1992 Rome peace talks. He visited Maputo in March and offered to mediate again, and met with Nyusi and talked on the telephone to Dhlakama, but his offer to mediate was rejected by both sides. (News Reports & Clippings 314, 20 Mar) He also visited in 2014. (more below) Romano is from the Santo Egidio community, which coordinated the successful Rome talks and has been working with Mozambican refugees in Malawi.

For the government, Masire is in Maputo (under the auspices of the Global Leadership Foundation, chaired by F W de Klerk), Kikweti is expected to arrive this week and name a senior official from his office as mediator, and Jonathan Powell has arrived as the British mediator.

Jonathan Powell (pronounced as “pole”) was British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s chief of staff from 1995 to 2007 and was chief negotiator in the northern Ireland peace talks. He subsequently set up Inter Mediate. The Tony Blair African Governance Initiative (AGI) has had two people in Nyusi’s presidential office since late last year (

AGI is not involved in mediation, and it had already introduced Powell to Nyusi. Thus the request to “Tony Blair” went to AGI which in turn suggested Powell.

Powell’s 2014 book, pointedly titled Talking to Terrorists, has reference to the Rome peace talks (pp 153-160). Powell writes that Renamo “was notorious for mutilating civilians, including children, by cutting off earns, noses, fingers and sexual organs. Alfonso Dhlakama had become the supreme leader of the movement after a bloody succession struggle in which his rival was killed. He was an insecure leader who wore glasses to appear more intellectual, even though he didn’t need them.”

Powell make several points which may hold lessons for these talks.

+ He has praise for Santo Egidio for not forcing the parties to make peace, but rather for allowing “long months” of negotiation.

+ He praises Santo Egidio’s efforts to keep the US and Portugal out of the negotiations and stressed the importance of Santo Egidio’s lack of international prestige and power, which made it a less threatening mediator.

+ Using an NGO for mediation makes them more flexible, but bigger powers need to be kept in reserve for both carrots and sticks. Powell quotes an Italian mediator, Andrea Bartoli, pointing out that the Italian government organised World Cup tickets and paid for “shopping trips to fashionable Rome stores where Renamo’s delegates were outfitted in designer suits and shoes. When Renamo ran up $60,000 in telephone bills between January and July 1992 alone, the Italians met the cost. … By the time of the signing of the Rome accord, the Italian government had spent $20 million on the peace process.”

+ Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland, is quoted making a point about El Salvador negotiations which may be a warning for Maputo: “It is inherent in good mediation that there should be one agent unquestionably and unequivocally in charge”. If there are several mediators, parties might be tempted to play off one against the other.

Mario Raffaeli visited in 1994 when he was made an honorary citizen by President Armando Guebuza. In a long interview with O Pais (27 June 2014) he said “I think Dhlakama must have a relevant role in the political life of the country. … Dhlakama must not be marginalised. … I think that the government must recognise the role of the Renamo leader in democracy and in guaranteeing peace in Mozambique. I think that ways must be found to recognise Afonso Dhlakama, whatever the political results.”

But Raffaeli had an equally strong message for Dhlakama. “Renamo should demand guarantees to ensure that the electoral process is just and transparent, but not 50% of the army and police. This is a task for parliament.” He argues that Renamo is wrong to be resorting to violence and other issues must be discussed in parliament, in part because there are no longer just two parties (as in 1992) and MDM is also in parliament. Raffaeli was highly critical of Renamo’s negotiating strategy. “I don’t understand Renamo’s real intentions. I do not understand their constant changing of positions.”

Renamo alleges that the government has violated the peace accord by making the military forces just one party, “but this is not completely true,” notes Raffaelli. The process of integration of the two armies “was not completely observed”, but this is because so many Renamo and government soldiers did not want to remain armed and wanted to become civilians.

“One error in the peace accord was to not have been more careful about the process of Renamo demilitarisation, in the context of Afonso Dhlakama asking to maintain a personal security guard. In fact, there are still many armed people,” Raffaeli noted. “It was a mistake to have left Renamo with weapons.” (News reports & clippings 264, 30 June 2014)

Meanwhile the parliamentary Permanent Commission said Monday that it remains open for discussions about amending the constitution and that the ad hoc commission for that purpose still exists – which would allow discussions of Renamo’s demand for the right to nominate governors in some provinces. And the Youth Parliament has said that civil society should be included in the negotiations, and that it cannot be just Renamo and government. (O Pais 20 July) The third party in parliament, MDM, has already demanded a say.

War continues

As the talks resume, the war continues. Police spokesman Leonardo Colher told Lusa (20 July) that there are three attacks a week on the armed convoy on the N7 road between Vanduzi and Changara, on the road that links Chimoio with Tete. O Pais (21 July) reports that last week Renamo raided two health posts, in Pinda and Mepinha, Morrumbala, Zambezia and stole medicines. Lusa (19 July) reports five attacks last week in Manica and Sofala. Radio Mocambique reports that 1300 people have fled the war in Mossurize, Manica and are being accommodated in a centre in Espugabera. Manica now has three refugee centres, in Espungabera, Barue and Gondola, with a total of 2000 people fleeing the fighting. (O Pais 18 July)

Manuel Lole, a former Renamo MP and former member of the State Council of Mozambique, was been kidnapped by two gunmen on 13 July in Chimoio, Manica and was found dead on July 16, in Tica, Sofala. (Folha de Maputo, 16 July) Renamo head Afonso told Canal de Mocambique that the government is continuing to shell his headquarters and is trying to kill him.

1591 people were killed on the roads last year, according to the National Land Transport Institute, INATTER. (AIM En 19 July) This is many more than have been killed in the ongoing small war.

Source: Mozambique News Reports & Clippings.