Monday, July 08, 2013

SADC must thwart plans to destabilise Mozambique
By Editor
Tue 02 July 2013, 14:00 CAT

The threats to peace and stability being posed by Renamo in Mozambique are very worrying. And the Southern African Development Community must step up efforts to thwart plans to destabilise Mozambique and the region by Renamo.

We are very worried about possible instability in the region if a civil war breaks out in Mozambique. There is need to support unity in Mozambique. We also want continued peace in Mozambique, and we should not entertain a situation that will be against the interests of Mozambique and the region.

The recent utterances and threats issued by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama are extremely worrying. Dhlakama has made it clear he is preparing to go to war to achieve his demands: "If it is necessary, we can go backwards. We prefer a poor country than to have people eating from our pot. I am training my men up and, if we need to, we'll live here and destroy Mozambique."

The war in Mozambique will bring untold suffering to the people of that country and our region. And it will reverse all the economic, social and political gains that have been made so far.

We therefore urge the Southern African Development Community and the African Union, to deal with the disturbing development in Mozambique as a matter of urgency.

The conflict in Mozambique threatens not only the gains we have made but also our collective future. One destablising conflict anywhere in our region is one too many.

We should treat the question of peace and stability in our region as a common challenge. We all know where we are coming from. We also know the history of Renamo. We have not forgotten the fact that Renamo was originally founded with the help of white-ruled Rhodesia's intelligence services and then backed by apartheid South Africa. Renamo was used to destabilise Mozambique, which was then a host to the African National Congress and the Zimbabwean freedom fighters under Robert Mugabe's Zanu. They caused a lot of damage to that country.

Renamo accuses the ruling Frelimo of maintaining a stranglehold over politics and the economy and stacking the election commission to ensure victory in a presidential vote next year. Renamo and its followers think that the political system is not inclusive enough. Resentment at Frelimo's dominance of politics and elections since the end of the war has also been accompanied by opposition allegations that the party's leaders are not hogging the spoils of the coal and gas bonanza. There is a feeling that an elite is getting rich and becoming wealthy, and that others are not.

And for as long as the majority of the people anywhere in our region feel oppressed, are not allowed meaningful democratic participation in decision making processes, and cannot elect their own leaders in what are seen and are accepted to be free and fair elections, there will always be tension and conflict.

The Frelimo government should try to diffuse tension by opening up economic and political opportunities for Renamo, for example, by addressing its demands for a more independent and representative electoral authority.

Of course, right now neither Renamo nor Frelimo seems to have the military capacity to go back to fighting an all-out conflict of the kind that left Mozambique in ruins two decades ago. We may also be lucky that there seems to be zero popular support for war from a Mozambican population of 23 million which has come to appreciate an existence of peace but still remains among the poorest in the world, scraping by on an average income of only US$400 a year.

There is need for a spirit of give and take in Mozambique. The peace that Mozambique has enjoyed over the last two decades was, to some measure, a product of a negotiated peace settlement.

There are today fears that even sporadic attacks could badly undermine Mozambique's recent economic gains. It might start as a small fire now. But a small group of determined, disgruntled people with some military training could still cause havoc and suffering.

Mozambique has made some progress that shouldn't be thrown away so easily. Hailed as a post-conflict success story, Mozambique has emerged as one of the brightest stars in the rising Africa narrative, enjoying growth rates of more than seven per cent. Surely, this is something that shouldn't be thrown away so easily because of political disappointments.

Attacks and disruptions to key exports and transport corridors could badly choke the enthusiasm of investors.

The danger is that, if not well managed, we will see increased polarisation as we move towards next year's elections. There is time to step back, but it requires genuine give and take.

There is no need to return to the bush. But if situations like these are not handled well, the bush will return to us. There is no need for violence. A decision on which the future of a country will depend should not be left to the impulses of emotion and passion. Violent changes in structures would be fallacious, ineffective in themselves, and not conforming to human dignity, which demands that the necessary changes take place from within - that is to say, through a fitting awakening of conscience, adequate preparation and effective participation of all. We believe in the productiveness of peace in order to achieve justice. We also believe that justice is a prerequisite for peace.

This situation demands all-embracing, courageous, urgent and profoundly renovating transformations. We should not be surprised, therefore, that temptation to violence is surfacing in Mozambique. One should not abuse the patience of a people that for years has borne a situation that would not be acceptable to anyone with any degree of awareness of human dignity.

If it is true that insurrection can be legitimate in the case of evident and prolonged tyranny that seriously works against fundamental human rights, and which damages the common good of a country, whether it proceeds from one person or from clearly unjust structures, it is also certain that violence generally generates new injustices, introduces new imbalances, and causes new disasters; one cannot combat a real evil at the price of a greater evil.

If we consider, then, the totality of the circumstances of our countries, and if we take into account our general preference for peace, then enormous difficulty of a civil war, the logic of violence, the atrocities it engenders, the risk of provoking foreign intervention, illegitimate as it may be, the difficulty of building a regime of justice and freedom while participating in a process of violence, we earnestly desire that the dynamism of the awakened and organised community be put to the service of justice and peace.

It is up to us to denounce everything which, opposing justice, destroys peace.

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