Mozambique’s president, Filipe Nyusi, on his trip to Angola from 9 to 11 November, was far more effusive about Mozambique’s Lusophone cousin than even the most cynical of observers could have hoped. Few realistically expected Nyusi to mention the 17 young men and women on trial for reading a book that the authorities have parlayed into accusations of plotting a coup, but the way the Mozambican president explicitly held Angola up as an example to be followed came as a shock.
Angola’s history can be seen as a bloodier version of Mozambique’s; the country re-turned to civil war after a cease-fire in the mid-90s and only reached a ‘durable peace’, Nyusi’s aim for Mozambique, after the government assassinated the rebel leader Jonas Savimbi in 2002. Only five weeks ago Canal de Moçambique’s front page headline was ‘Operation Savimbi’ with a picture of Dhlakama (see Mozambique Politics & Security – 07.10.15); that now seems even harder for the Mozambican government to deny. From then on in, the ruling MPLA has tightened its grip over the country, while a circle around President Jose Eduardo dos Santos – head of state since 1979 – has appropriated the vast majority of the wealth accruing to the country, mainly through oil discoveries and production. Savimbi’s UNITA lives on as a political party with little real influence.
‘The Angolan people found the right way for peaceful co-existence between the various political formations’, Nyusi told the Angolan parliament last week. ‘A formula which manages to keep the political parties unarmed. We believe this experience will be exploited by our parliamentarians’, he said. ‘We admire your political co-existence.’
The speech was the clearest indication yet of Nyusi’s position on Renamo’s power-sharing proposals – and indicates, unsurprisingly in retrospect, that he wants real power in Mozambique to reside with Frelimo indefinitely. Renamo, like UNITA in Angola, can be given baubles here and there, but the key aim is their disarmament – and probably the removal of Dhlakama. It is therefore no wonder that the Renamo leader remains in hiding.