Maputo, 2 Apr (AIM) -The final military base of Mozambique’s main opposition party, Renamo, will be closed by the end of April, according to Mirko Manzoni, the Special Envoy to Mozambique of United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.
The base, located in Gorongosa district, in the central province of Sofala, should have been closed on 19 December, but Renamo refused to cooperate on the grounds that pensions had not been fixed for its former guerrillas.
Renamo says that 350 guerrillas are stationed at the Gorongosa base. These are supposed to be the last members of what is politely referred to as Renamo’s “residual force”.
Dismantling the Gorongosa base will bring to an end the “Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration” (DDR) of the Renamo forces, under the peace agreement signed by President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade in August 2019.
So far, 15 of the 16 bases declared by Renamo have been dismantled, and almost 5,000 former guerrillas have been demobilised.
Speaking to reporters, at United Nations headquarters in New York, where he took part in sessions of the Security Council chaired by Nyusi, Manzoni said that all remaining agreements concerning the DDR should be achieved.
Cited by Radio Mozambique, Manzoni said “I will return to Mozambique next week, and I shall speak with the parties. I think we shan’t have any problems, and we shall close the base by the end of April”.
He guaranteed that all the conditions for the pacification of the country had now been met. Manzoni did not believe that the recent demonstrations paying homage to the country’s best known rap artist, Azagaia, which were attacked by the police, had any connection with the peace negotiations between Renamo and the government.
The obvious stumbling block is the payment of pensions to thousands of former Renamo fighters. It is not clear where the money for the pensions will come from.
Most pension schemes, in Mozambique and elsewhere, depend on the beneficiaries paying contributions over their working lives. But men who spent years, or decades, in the bush fighting to overthrow the government, have not paid any contributions.
Nonetheless, at a press conference in New York, Nyusi claimed that the scheme for paying the pensions is sustainable. He recognized that it is “an exceptional model”, but believed it was necessary in order to safeguard peace and national reconciliation and to strengthen democracy.
He added that the government is open to implementing other initiatives to reintegrate into society the former guerrillas and their dependents.