20 years after the signing of the Rome General Peace Accord which brought an end to the 15-year conflict in Mozambique, Alfonso Dhlakama and 800 of his freedom fighters ahve decamped to their former base. Dhlakama has promised war if his demands are not met.
The violence of war remains fresh in the minds of many. Both sides of the conflict were accused of war crimes, while more than one million people were killed and more than five million were displaced.
The name RENAMO could soon be back in the news, in a replay of its former self. It is anyone’s guess as to whether it will be a full blown sequel or a parody. There will be number of ex-fighters who have since become very accustomed to life in civvies.
The reason for this turn of events seems to be money or the lack of it. Dhlakama wants FRELIMO to share the wealth acquired since the discovery of the country’s mineral reserves. Mozambique has experienced 10 years of growth and is expecting this to continue with revenues from gas finds expected to come online by 2018. Dhlakama has accused FRELIMO of keeping these spoils to itself and called President Armando Guebuza “robber-in-chief of public funds.”
The Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO; Portuguese: Resistência Nacional Moçambicana) is a conservative political party which fought against the FRELIMO in the Mozambican Civil War and against the ZANU movement led by Robert Mugabe from 1975 to 1992.
RENAMO was founded in 1975 following Mozambique’s independence as an anti-Communist political organization. It was sponsored by the Central Intelligence Organisation of Rhodesia. André Matsangaissa, an ex-FRELIMO army commander, was its first leader. The Ian Smith administration in Rhodesia sought to prevent the FRELIMO government from providing a safe haven for Zimbabwe African National Union militants seeking to overthrow the Rhodesian government.
Matsangaissa was killed by government soldiers on 17 October 1979 in Sofala Province. Following a violent succession struggle, Afonso Dhlakama became the new RENAMO leader. During the Mozambican Civil War of the 1980s, RENAMO also received support from South Africa.
In the United States, the CIA and conservative lobbying for support to RENAMO, which was strongly resisted by the State Department who would “not recognize or negotiate with RENAMO”.
The question remains; WIll Dhlakama carry out his threat and try to take his share of the country’s new wealth by force? Or has it just been too long for the fighters?