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Silencing guns, entrenching peace key, says President

The Chronicle

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Zvamaida Murwira in Maputo, Mozambique

AFRICA should continue seeking solutions to its own problems while focusing on attaining socio-economic development and growth in a sustainable and peaceful environment, President Mnangagwa said here yesterday.

Delivering a speech during a closing ceremony of the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of Renamo, the former insurgency and military group that waged a civil war to fight the Frelimo-led Government in Mozambique, President Mnangagwa said the end of conflict between the Mozambican Government and Renamo rebels showed that Africa had come of age to deal with its own challenges in its quest to achieve continental objectives. 

Renamo has since become a fully-fledged opposition political party and has been participating in national discourse and elections.

“This gathering is of great significance, not only to our region, but for Africa. Additionally, the occasion dovetails with the African Union’s commitment to ‘silencing the guns’ on our continent. Similarly the entrenchment of peace and security gives impetus to the accelerated realisation of socio economic development for the people of Mozambique, the Sadc region and the continent as a whole,” said President Mnangagwa. 

He commended Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi for his visionary, principled and conciliatory leadership towards finding a lasting and peaceful solution to political differences in his country.

“By the same token, allow me to also applaud my brother, Ossufo Momade (Renamo leader), our brothers and sisters in Renamo for putting the interests of Mozambique first. The unity of purpose and patriotism exhibited by all parties must remain a guiding beacon as you move forward the people of Mozambique, in harmony and love 2019, ultimately resulting in today’s historic event. We congratulate you all,” said President Mnangagwa. 

He said Zimbabwe will forever be a dependable partner to Mozambique and will support it in its quest for everlasting peace consistent with the war time mantra ‘an injury to one is an injury to all.’

“In this regard, we continue to put our weight and support behind the involvement of the Sadc Mission in Mozambique. The commendable milestones achieved so far towards sustainable peace in Cabo Delgado are an ample demonstration that African problems can be addressed by African solutions,” said President Mnangagwa.

He chronicled the strong ties between Zimbabwe and Mozambique where Maputo helped Harare during the liberation struggle culminating in independence from the racist colonial regime of Ian Smith.

“At risk and immense sacrifice, Mozambique remained unwavering and provided us with sanctuary as well as moral, material and logistical support. Today our country enjoys freedom, independence, growth and development due to your selfless contribution. The unparalleled and selfless sacrifice, Dear Brother and Comrades of Mozambique, is embedded in our hearts and minds. We shall never forget,” said President Mnangagwa.

In his keynote address, President Nyusi assured Renamo that his Government will play its role in fulfilling what was agreed by the parties when they signed the peace agreement.

He said his Government is working flat out to fulfil its end of the agreement including allocating farming land to some Renamo forces, most of whom had spent decades in the bush and had since severed ties with their families as they participate in the war against the Government. 

Filipe Nyusi File AFP The Pearl Dream Inc President Filipe Nyusi

“Political differences are resolved through dialogue and not war. Peace building is not a finished product but a continuous process,” said President Nyusi.

He commended the United Nations, AU and Sadc for their support in their efforts to find lasting peace in his country.

President Nyusi chronicled the long journey he travelled in his efforts to end hostilities with Renamo from the time he assumed office around 2015.

Speaking at the same occasion, Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi described the event as a milestone that will go down in the annals of history as a step in the right direction.

He commended both the Mozambican Government and Renamo leaders for showing commitment to sustainable peace.

Renamo leader, Mr Momade said he was committed to peace in the country and implored the Mozambican Government to fulfil the remaining issues agreed when they signed the agreement.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ special envoy to Mozambique, Ambassador Mirko Manzoni, said it had been a long and arduous journey to achieve full peace in Mozambique.

Earlier on, President Mnangagwa and President Masisi handed out Merit Awards to those who played a leading role in the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process.

Renamo was formed around 1976 by white Rhodesians with support from the apartheid South African regime who were seeking a way to keep newly independent Mozambique from supporting the guerrillas fighting for independence in Zimbabwe and South Africa. When Zimbabwe became free, South Africa took over the support for the rebels and greatly extended it, while Zimbabwe offered support to Mozambique.

Under the Frelimo Government, Mozambique housed Zanu-PF and its military wing, Zanla, which were fighting for Zimbabwe’s independence alongside Zapu with its military wing Zipra based mainly in Zambia.

Renamo was led by its founding leader, the late Mr Andre Matsangaissa, hence the group earned a nickname “Matsangaissa” as it caused hostilities through its banditry work in Mozambique and neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe where it destroyed infrastructure in some areas.

To mark the end of the war, Renamo leader, Mr Momade, handed over an AK47 rifle to President Nyusi last week.

Mr Matsangaissa died in 1979 and was succeeded by Mr Alfonso Dhlakama who led the group until his death in 2018.

It was Mr Dhlakama who first signed a peace deal with the then Mozambican President Joachim Chissano in Rome in 1992 to mark the end of the 17-year-old war.

However, there remained outbreaks of sporadic violence as some elements in Renamo refused to disarm.

A week ago, Renamo closed its last base in Gorongosa district, Sofala province in the presence of President Nyusi and United Nations Secretary General special envoy for Mozambique, Amb Manzoni.

Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa arrived back home yesterday.

He was received at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Vice-President Dr Constantino Chiwenga, service chiefs and senior Government officials.

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