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Exclusive interview with Henriques Dhlakama: “Only shock therapy can put Mozambique in a situation of basic justice”

Gonçalo Lopes

Ten years later, the nickname Dhlakama will appear again in candidacies for the presidency of Mozambique, precisely in 2024. Afonso Dhlakama was a history of politics in this country and one of the founders of RENAMO, the current opposition to Filipe Nyusi. Now, however, and after his death in 2018, it is his son Henriques Afonso Dhlakama who will advance to the presidential elections. In an exclusive interview with Plataforma, the candidate talks a little about everything. In this first part of the conversation, the specialist in trading and investments, makes a small assessment of your country

Henriques Afonso Dhlakama was born on October 22, 1987, in the same birthplace as his father, specifically in Mangunde, Chibabava. Spending part of his childhood in Mozambique, his father decided to send him to Portugal, where he studied, and from where he was intermittently returning to Mozambique, accompanying his parents on official trips. In 2012, however, he returned permanently to Mozambique, taking up residence in Maputo. Now, eight years later, he is moving towards a presidential candidacy and in this interview he reveals some of the reasons for this decision making.

What is the main problem you currently identify in Mozambique and what solutions do you propose to solve it?

Mozambique no longer has a major problem. In fact, Mozambique’s problems are so vast and profound that only shock therapy can put the country in a situation of basic justice. Those who live in Mozambique know what I am talking about and there is not a citizen who does not reach the end of the day without seeing his or her right not satisfied. We are preparing a vast and in-depth document, with the collaboration of several specialized teams by areas, to point out the most serious problems and the guidelines that we will follow if we win the Presidential elections. It is a document to be presented at the appropriate time. So, this is also the reason for launching my candidacy so far in advance, namely giving Mozambicans time to think well about what they are going to do and the importance of the decision they will take in 2024.

If your father were alive, how do you think Afonso Dhlakama would look at the state of the country for which he fought so much?

I am not presumptuous enough to say that I know it. But the fact is, I have my opinion and it is for that that I will also fight. It is not through this path and these choices that my father fought a lifetime and for which so many thousands of people gave their lives.

What impact did your father’s death have on Mozambican politics? This in a general point of view, looking at the current government, the opposition, peace agreements, etc …

The impact was massive. Unfortunately, the opposition has fragmented and is in danger of disappearing. Several micro-parties with half a dozen deputies each, it is the future that I foresee for Mozambican democracy. In other words, the elimination of any opposition, to the detriment of a vital balance that defends the best interests of Mozambicans.

There are two latent conflicts in Mozambique. What solution do you advocate for Cabo Delgado and to unblock the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of RENAMO guerrillas, taking into account the role of the self-proclaimed Military Junta?

The disagreements that have arisen on the issue of the DDR process could already have been resolved. So there was a desire to listen to people, inside the structures, especially when we talk about veterans of the liberation war, to whom we owe everything. Burying your head in the sand and dubious words don’t work, especially with men used to combat and straightforward like the edge of a knife. We owe them the highest respect and could have already been resolved. The Cabo Delgado issue is more complex. I reserve my opinion to implement solutions after taking office, if elected. There are problems that are not short-term and must be resolved. In a society where balance is absent, the tendency will always be to aggravate the situation and at this moment, unfortunately, I do not see the conditions in place to be optimistic in the near future, regarding the issue of Cabo Delgado.

Do you have close contacts with the leader of the self-proclaimed RENAMO Military Junta, Mariano Nhongo? Do you think he’ll give in, or can we watch a party split?

I don’t know Mr. General Mariano Nhongo. I was not contacted by him or contacted him. I have enormous respect for him and, from what I read recently, he appears to be a strategist with vision and being in good faith. Unfortunately, the question arises as to who will yield and, put in this way, is an appeal to hostilities. In order to know what is at stake, you have to listen to people and then look for a solution. But there is always a solution, so everyone wants and thinks of a higher value, namely the well-being of Mozambicans and the future of Mozambique.

How can the international community support Mozambique? Can the deployment of a peacekeeping force on the ground help, specifically in the Cabo Delgado region?

I think that the Mozambican state has the means and the decision-making capacity to choose the best for Cabo Delgado. To date, I would have made a few different choices, but it’s a personal opinion and it’s worth what it’s worth.

And what is the role of the CPLP, do you think who in situations of conflict should be more interventionist?

CPLP has its role, but we must be realistic. However, it has no instruments that it can, in the current context, put on the ground to resolve such serious issues.

What kind of relationship do you defend with Portugal? What should be changed and what is good and bad in this relationship?

Portugal is an ally of Mozambique. As with all allies it is a relationship that must not only continue, but be deepened at all levels. But I stress, again, that as with all allies. In matters of foreign policy, we must always think about the national interest of Mozambique and Mozambicans, as any state does. In this context, everything fits into a relationship that must be maintained and improved, without accusations or prejudices. Any allied state is an asset for Mozambique and Portugal is one of those states.

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