Southern Africa: Renamo Says Zuma Did Receive Its Request

Maputo – Mozambique’s former rebel movement Renamo on Monday produced copies of correspondence which, it said, proves that South African President Jacob Zuma has indeed received its letter requesting him to mediate between Renamo and the Mozambican government.

At a Maputo press conference, the Renamo national spokesperson, Antonio Muchanga, distributed copies of a letter signed by Dr. Cassius Lubisi, the director of Zuma’s office, acknowledging receipt of the Renamo letter.

Muchanga triumphantly declared that this proved the South African Foreign Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane had lied when she denied last week that the South African government had received any invitation to mediate.

The content of Lubisi’s letter, however, should have wiped any smiles off Muchanga’s face. For Zuma’s office gave Renamo the brush-off. Far from responding positively to the approach, as Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama had claimed, the letter told Renamo to go and speak to the Mozambican government. Only if the government and Renamo agreed jointly to seek mediation, would the South African government consider it.

Dhlakama last week insisted that mediation by Zuma and by the Catholic Church was a pre-condition for any face-to-face meeting between the Renamo leader and President Filipe Nyusi.

Since the Mozambican authorities have made it abundantly clear that they do not regard any foreign mediation as necessary in what is a purely internal dispute, the Renamo request to Zuma looks like a non-starter (although Muchanga claimed Renamo is waiting for a “yes” from the government).

In August Dhlakama unilaterally suspended the dialogue between his party and the government which had been under way since April 2013. He also unilaterally dispensed with the services of the five Mozambican mediators to the dialogue – prominent academic Lourenco do Rosario, Anglican bishop Dinis Sengulane, catholic priest Filipe Couto, Methodist pastor Anastacio Chembeze, and moslem cleric Sheikh Habib Abibo. Since the mediators were appointed by both sides, it is unclear that one side has the power to sack them.


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