Afonso Macacho Marceta Dhlakama (Mangunde, Sofala, January 1, 1953), is a revolutionary politician and military man and leader of RENAMO (Mozambican National Resistance), the main opposition political party in Mozambique. Afonso Dhlakama is a former vice president of the Centrist Democratic International, an international association, founded in 1961 and based in Brussels, of which RENAMO is a member. Afonso Dhlakama is married to Rosaria Xavier Mbiriakwira Dhlakama and has eight children.
Early life and military career
In 1974, after the April 25 Revolution in Portugal and, consequently, the end of the colonial war, the young Dhlakama joined FRELIMO (Mozambique Liberation Front). However, shortly afterwards he abandoned this movement to become, in 1976, one of the founders of the RNM (National Resistance of Mozambique), an armed movement. After the death of the first president, André Matsangaíssa in combat, and after a struggle for succession, Dhlakama became president of this movement to oppose the regime, which was renamed RENAMO. The civil war in Mozambique, involving FRELIMO (in government) and RENAMO (in opposition), lasted 16 years, during which Dhlakama continued to lead the guerrillas. In 1984 the People’s Republic of Mozambique, under the FRELIMO government, and the Republic of South Africa, under the Apartheid minority regime, Postwar and political career.
End of Civil War
After in 1990 the Mozambican government adopted a constitution establishing multi-partisanship, Dhlakama signed a peace agreement with President Joaquim Chissano (leader of FRELIMO) on 4 October 1992 in Rome. in Italy. After a long period of negotiation, on 4 October 1992, Joaquim Chissano (then President of Mozambique) signed the General Peace Agreement in Rome, ending a 16-year civil war that destroyed the economy. and infrastructure in the country, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths. Since then RENAMO has become a political party, the second largest political party in Mozambique. The signing of the General Peace Agreement laid the foundations for the establishment of democracy and the holding of the first multiparty elections, abandonment of communist politics, Meeting with Nelson Mandela
In July 1994, Nelson Mandela, during his visit to Mozambique as President of South Africa, met with RENAMO President Afonso Dhlakama. Mandela asked Chissano for protocol support in arranging the meeting with the Renamo leader, but Chissano considered that Mandela’s move to meet Dhlakama would give Renamo leader undue credibility. Mandela’s attempt to meet Dhlakama was shrouded in uncertainty until he decided to move on his own initiative and means to meet Afonso Dhlakama, which was consummated. Mandela’s interest in meeting with Afonso Dhlakama was not intended to be substantial, but to show his neutrality, about two months before the first multiparty elections in Mozambique. After Mandela’s meeting with Dhlakama at an official guest house in Maputo, Nelson Mandela stated that the RENAMO leader had been very cordial and did not show him a rebel leader.
Dhlakama expressed his satisfaction at the meeting, Mandela said at the time, and said: “It is very good that Mandela reconciles me and Joaquim Chissano, following the same process of national reconciliation underway in South Africa. ” In his interview at the time with WeekendStar, Mandela praised Dhlakama’s concern for peace and his and Chissano’s commitment to it. However, Mandela’s gesture to meet Dhlakama, without the indifference Chissano advised him, only revealed the importance that the RENAMO leader has for Mozambique’s democracy and stabilization. Nelson Mandela’s course is not similar to Dhlakama’s, but they do coincide on some points: violence or the use of weapons to resolve differences, as it was in 1976 when at the age of 23 the leader of the “partridge” takes part in the guerrilla war. fight against communist Marxist politics in Mozambique. In the case of Mandela, he was detained for the fact in 1964, remained in prison until 1990.
Presidential Candidate: 1994-2009
In October 1994, Afonso Dhlakama ran for Mozambique’s first General (Legislative and Presidential) elections. In 1998 he met with Chissano to discuss the situation in the country.
In December 1999 Mozambique’s (Legislative and Presidential) elections were held again.
This time the margin was lower as RENAMO’s leader totaled 47.71% and FRELIMO’s 52.29%. RENAMO challenged the validity of these elections, and about a year later, in November 2000, there were violent demonstrations across the country organized by RENAMO. Dhlakama and Chissano met before the end of the year, but early in 2001, the RENAMO leader reaffirmed that he did not recognize his FRELIMO counterpart as president of the Republic of Mozambique. He accused the government of organizing massacres in the north of the country. However, he never failed to ask for the recount of the votes in the 1999 legislative and presidential elections.
In 2008, on 25 March, as Vice-President of the Centrist Democratic International, to which the Social Democratic Party (Portugal) belongs, President Afonso Dhlakama received and spoke with Portuguese President Cavaco Silva in the city of Maputo Although the political contacts in Mozambique of the Portuguese head of state are clearly with FRELIMO, this meeting allowed President Afonso Dhlakama to express to the Portuguese head of state his opinion on governance in Mozambique, with greater emphasis on the current government’s inability to respond. to the people’s concerns, the problem of state partisanship, and appealed to the highest magistrate of the Portuguese State, to continue with Mozambique’s development support initiatives. Besides that,
Political-military instability: 2013-2014
However, as a result of the government’s failure to comply with the General Peace Agreement, there was a degradation and partisanship of the state’s infrastructure and agencies, which led to its discrediting. Contrary to the provisions of the General Peace Agreement protocols, the Defense and Security Forces, the judicial system, the constitutional council, and other state organs were partisan. These aspects, together with the successive irregularities in the electoral processes, and the ridicule of the opposition and all the regime-critical citizens, led RENAMO’s leader, President Afonso Dhlakama, to leave the capital of his country, where he lived. Nampula, northern province of Mozambique. After a failed dialogue with Armando Emilio Guebuza, former president of the country (and FRELIMO), The government sent military and paramilitary forces close to his residence in the city of Nampula. This and other events led the RENAMO leader to leave his residence in Nampula City once more and to his headquarters in the village of Sathundjira, Vunduizi district, Gorongosa district in the central province of Sofala.
Surprising everyone, on 21 October 2013 government military forces attacked their headquarters, forcing the RENAMO leader to flee to an uncertain location. However, other senior RENAMO leaders remained in Maputo city, who have engaged in tense political dialogue with government representatives. As part of this dialogue, some historic agreements, as provided for in the protocols of the General Peace Agreement, have already been reached. However, even with apparent success in the dialogue, the government has engaged in military assaults, interpreted by certain sectors as attempts to assassinate the leader of the largest opposition party, and thus perpetuate itself in power and / or guarantee its success in non-transparent elections. These sectors believe that certain government circles have viewed the physical liquidation of the RENAMO leader as a quick way to weaken political opposition. This belief is substantiated by the increasingly evident low acceptance of FRELIMO, especially among young people, as the last municipal elections have shown.
In addition to military investment, Armando Emílio Guebuza’s government and family have invested in other actions aimed at controlling the media, including intimidation. To cite one example, some television channels, formerly known as government critics, in recent days have reported news and promoted partial, pro-government debates. These aspects have been described by many sectors of civil society as a serious threat to the consolidation of democracy in Mozambique.
After a long period of uncertainty about his whereabouts and / or if he was still alive, on 8 May 2014, benefiting from the postponement of the end of the voter registration period, the RENAMO leader retired. However, while this event has brought some relief to Mozambican society and the international community, the end of hostilities with government forces is still far from over. Even with declarations of ceasefire by RENAMO, the government has invested in military actions, which reinforces the belief that the intention is to physically eliminate Afonso Dhlakama, to weaken the opposition and thus relieve the political pressure that FRELIMO has suffered due to the low reputation of the current president, poor governance, and low popularity of FRELIMO and his candidate, Filipe Nyussi.
In the early afternoon of 7 July 2014, Antonio Muchanga, spokesman for Afonso Dhlakama, was arrested without any court order while leaving a meeting of the Council of State of which he was a member. António Muchanga’s arrest was only legalized a day later, when he was transferred to the highest security prison. Muchanga’s arrest (dubbed the ‘Muchanga affair’) has been challenged by many sectors of civil society and academics because of its illegality and the potential to spoil the already tense political-military situation in which the country is plunged. In fact, the then Attorney General of the Republic, Augusto Paulino, who was dismissed the day after Antonio Muchanga’s arrest, was against this procedure. President Afonso Dhlakama, having learned of the arrest of his spokesman, he called a conference call in which he promised not to retaliate militarily, and ordered his party colleagues to remain calm.
At the same time, Afonso Dhlakama phoned the president of the Mozambican League for Human Rights, Alice Mabota, asking her to represent her spokesperson as a lawyer, and she accepted the request. The state stance displayed by the president of RENAMO in the “Muchanga affair” surprised many people, who feared that the political-military situation would deteriorate. However, Afonso Dhlakama made it clear that the arrest of his spokesman supports his fear of leaving Gorongosa Mountain, where he is supposed to be, in the event of his return to the city of Maputo, for the eventual high-level dialogue. With the President of the Republic, Armando Guebuza, he can have him arrested or even murdered.
Presidential Candidate: 2014
On July 15, 2014, RENAMO formalized Afonso Dhlakama’s candidacy for the presidential elections of 15 October 2014. There were 20,000 signatures, double the minimum required by law, which Afonso Dlakama’s party handed to the Constitutional Council. , at a time when 10 days were left before the deadline for submission of applications. The application came at a time when Afonso Dhlakama was still a refugee in the Gorongosa Mountains, and among the documents delivered, the certificate of criminal record of candidate Afonso Dhlakma was missing, as the document can only be passed by a notary in the holder’s presence.
The criminal record is one of the key documents for candidacy for political office, particularly for the President of the Republic and deputies, and only those who have no criminal record are eligible to apply. On 21 July 2014 RENAMO handed the Constitutional Council the Afonso Dhlakama criminal record certificate, the missing document for the October presidential race.
On 5 August 2014, a judgment of the Constitutional Council, the supervisory body of constitutional acts, announced that Afonso Dhlakama’s candidacy for the Presidency of the Republic in the 15 October elections had been accepted, all the formal and legal requirements required were met. by the Constitution and the Law. The applications of Jacinto Nyusi from Frelimo and Daviz Simango from MDM were also accepted. The Constitutional Council, on the other hand, decided to reject the remaining eight of the eleven nominations it received for not fulfilling the requirement to be proposed by a minimum of ten thousand voters.
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