Windhoek - Several Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders this week witnessed a historic peace deal to end military conflict in Mozambique.
The deal was signed by President Filipe Nyusi and opposition Renamo party leader, Ossufo Momade, in Maputo on Tuesday. The deal will see the end of war between the ruling Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) and the Mozambique National Resistance Resistance (Renamo).
The deal will see Renamo militants integrated into the Mozambique military or into civilian life.
The Mozambique conflict started when Renamo instigated a civil war against Frelimo shortly after Mozambique attained its independence from Portugal in 1975. The conflict, which lasted for over 15 years, left dozens of Mozambicans dead while thousand were left homeless.
In 1992 the two parties signed a peace deal in Rome in order to have multi-party elections in 1994, which Renamo lost becoming an official opposition party. In 2013, Renamo announced that the 1992 deal had lapsed and that it would be going back to the bush to fight Frelimo.
As a result, the battle between the two parties started and lasted for three years until its demise in 2016.
On August 1, the two rivals signed a precursor accord at Gorongosa, in north-central Mozambique, under which they formally agreed to end military hostilities.
This week, that deal was signed into force, paving the way for Mozambique to hold free and fair elections in October.
During the signing ceremony, SADC Chairperson and Namibian President Dr Hage Geingob said that the agreement marked a glorious triumph for the people of Mozambique, the region and continent at large.
He said that as the outgoing chair of the SADC family, this final act of his tenure was without doubt one of the highlights of what had been a fulfilling year.
“On behalf of the government and people of Namibia and SADC, I welcome this landmark peace accord and congratulate my dear brothers, His Excellency President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi and Honourable Ossufo Momade, leader of Renamo, for placing a high premium on peace and stability for the development of all Mozambicans. Indeed, this is a crowning moment for me and I am pleased to have been invited to witness this momentous occasion, before I handover to my brother President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli next week,” he said.
Geingob added that the peace accord and signing of the peace pledge this week were in line with the 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration of the African Union, in which African heads of state and government pledged to silence the guns and end all wars by December 2020, as part of efforts to promote an “integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa; the Africa We Want”.
“Mozambique has shown that silencing the guns is not mere rhetoric. You have walked the talk. To buttress your commitment to Silencing the Guns, SADC urges all parties to implement the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) process and in this regard, stands ready to support the Republic of Mozambique in her preparations for an international conference to mobilise funds for the DDR process. Even as we mark the end of an era of war, we recognise that the work of achieving lasting peace has just begun. I am confident that my brothers, President Nyusi and Honourable Momade will carry out this process to its logical conclusion,” he said.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose country played a bigger role in bringing about this deal, said that the agreement came up as a result of serious negotiations that were underpinned by foresight, vision and by courage by President Nyusi and Momade.
“Here we are today marking history, which is being witnessed by the international community and the people of Mozambique. The signing of this agreement here today will pave a way for peaceful elections in Mozambique. As members of SADC, we will continue to respect and encourage democratic processes and henceforth put emphasis on the importance of economic and social integration of the region and the African continent,” he said.
The agreement will enable Mozambique to hold general and presidential elections on 15 October.
Ramaphosa wished Mozambique well on the elections saying this would provide citizens an opportunity to exercise their rights to democracy in deciding the future of their beautiful country.
“It is indeed an honour to be part of these celebrations, and South Africa to have been accorded an opportunity to witness and celebrate with our sister country this important milestone. This deal will guarantee peace and stability for this country and trigger a new beginning. What we can assure you is that we as South Africa will walk this journey with you. You will never walk alone. We will always be there with you,” he said.
Zambian President Edgar Lungu witness the signing of the accord in his capacity as Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Operation.
Zimbabwe was represented by vice-president, Kembo Mohadi. Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and European Union Foreign Affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, were also in attendance.
There is, however, a doubt that the deal, just like the one of 1992, could just be a temporary pact until after the October elections. There are fears that should Renamo lose the election, they could go back to the bush and instigate a war. A Renamo faction of Afonso Dhlakama, the historic leader of the Mozambique of Renamo, who died in May last year, said that they will not put guns down as long as Momade was still Renamo leader.
But Nyusi warned that any Renamo fighters who chose not to hand in their weapons under the ongoing disarmament programme would be "hunted down".