Maputo — Afonso Dhlakama, the leader and presidential candidate of the former rebel movement Renamo, on Wednesday pledged at a large rally in the city of Quelimane, capital of the central Mozambican province of Zambezia that, if he is elected president, he will preside over a democratic government of social justice.
He boasted that he had “fought for democracy”, and said that a future Renamo government would promote economic development and justice so that Mozambicans would no longer be divided into rich and poor.
“Bank on me to solve these problems immediately”, he urged the crowd. “If I don't comply with these promises in five years, you just have to say ‘Dhlakama deceived us. He didn't carry out his promises and now he's going.' And I will go away without killing anybody”.
Dhlakama said that other candidates describe the election campaign as a time for festivity, but for him it was a time for reflection. “Those who say this is a festive moment, are those who go around drinking beer and whisky”, he accused.
“I feel this is the only opportunity for the people to put Dhlakama in power”, he said. “This time I want, with all respect, to ask the machuabos (a large ethnic group in Zambezia) to vote for me so that we don't go on talking about poverty, suffering, unemployment and hunger”.
He claimed that in Mozambique there is no rule of law, just a police force which “makes the people their slaves”. If he were to be elected, he promised, he would create justice for all.
“The only fighter for democracy and justice in this country is called Dhlakama”, he said. “But I am not satisfied because the people are still suffering. Vote for me to end all this playing around”.
Meanwhile, in the northern city of Nampula, the Renamo provincial coordinator, Constantino Ntipa, claimed that Renamo knows some of those who are behind the wave of kidnappings that hit Mozambican cities as from 2011.
Speaking to voters on the outskirts of Nampula, Ntipa said “We know some people who have kidnapped our sons and nephews, but when these people are taken to justice the case stops there”.
He said Renamo would be “implacable” against such politicians and jurists, against “these unjust men, these doctors who have no feelings for the people, for the masses, or for those who voted for them”.
The courts had lost credibility in the eyes of the people, he said. “The people looked at the court as a place where all the afflicted find a solution to their problems, but the courts of the ruling party are places of injustice and corruption. Renamo and President Dhlakama want to reverse this situation”.
Ntipa did not name any of the alleged kidnappers, nor did he say whether Renamo had shared its information with the police. And his claim that the courts have failed to sentence kidnappers is simply untrue. There have been a series of kidnap trials since late 2013, resulting in long prison sentences.
The most recent trial was in Beira where, on 23 September, a court sentenced three people to between 16 and 20 years imprisonment for their part in the attempted kidnapping of the son of a local businessman.
Ntipa also promised that a Renamo government would raise the wages of the police and improve police working conditions. “We want a police which is truly free and non-partisan”, he said. “We want a police with wages compatible with the work so that policemen do not fall into the corruption that characterizes the police force today”.