Afonso Dhlakama

Renamo leadear Afonso Dhlakama

After many false dawns over the 12 months since the last face-to-face meeting between President Filipe Nyusi and leader of opposition/rebel group Renamo Afonso Dhlakama, numerous armed clashes, and innumerable casualties, all the signs are there that a new meeting will happen in the coming days.

Mozambique Politics & Security reports that to some extent this can be seen as a victory for the country’s president, both against Renamo and within his own party and state forces.

Both sides have been left with few options. Nyusi has to make something happen. Investors are staying away; foreign diplomats are exasperated; and the population is restive.

Moreover, the media is taking a more aggressive stance to government disinformation, signalling that it will no longer tolerate it.

For Dhlakama, his self-imposed deadline to take power in six provinces is this month.

Already people are asking where his government is – though Renamo points out that March has 31 days, and we are still only at the beginning.

One of Dhlakama’s conditions for negotiating was, until 1 March, that Renamo must already have taken power in those northern and central provinces where he claims to have won the 2014 elections. Given the practical impossibility of Renamo actually taking power by force, Dhlakama needs a way out, fast.

The fact that Dhlakama is alive to meet Nyusi again is arguably an achievement for the president, who seemed to have lost control of the armed forces when they repeatedly tried to kill the Renamo leader in September and October 2015.

Dhlakama has been in hiding since those attempts on his life, but the president managed to put an end to the armed forces’ campaign to disarm Renamo’s residual militia by force.

Instead of going on the offensive, the government seems instead to have called Renamo’s bluff on governing the northern provinces.

And Dhlakama now has to come to the negotiating table of his own accord in order to make it appear that the government talked him down from his ‘irreversible’ stance on taking power.

Soon, we predict, the country will be able to breathe easier.