, 06 October, 2020 / 11:00 PM
A Catholic Prelate in Mozambique’s Diocese of Chimoio has weighed in on the security challenges in several parts of the Southern African country, saying that the Rome Peace mediations signed 28 years ago to end violence in the country are yet to bear the needed fruit of long-lasting peace in the country.
In an interview with ACI Africa correspondent in Mozambique, Bishop João Carlos Hatoa Nunes said that people in several parts of the country continued to live in fear owing to protracted violence.
“Peace is still a desire in our country... We still see several very clear signs such as the attacks in the Central and Northern areas and the unending fear that hangs over several populations who are in these conflict zones,” Bishop João Carlos said in the Monday, October 5 interview.
He added, “All this demonstrates that peace is still a desire for many Mozambicans and that we have not yet managed to meet and together work for the growth of our country.”
The Prelate spoke about the Rome General Peace Accords, a peace treaty that was signed between the government of Mozambique and the Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO), ending the country’s Civil War on October 4, 1992.
Negotiations were mediated by two members of the Community of Sant'Egidio, Andrea Riccardi and Matteo Zuppi, as well as Bishop Jaime Gonçalves and Italian government representative Mario Raffaelli.
On October 21, 2013, RENAMO leaders declared that they were annulling the peace accord as a result of a government attack on their base. Another deal for the cessation of hostilities was agreed in 2014.
The third attempt to end hostilities was the signing a peace treaty on August 6, 2019 by the country’s President Filipe Nyusi and guerrilla movement RENAMO leader Ossufo Momade to put an end to a resurgence of the armed conflict in central Mozambique.
Former President Joaquim Alberto Chissano who was at the signing of the Rome agreements in Italy on 4 October 1992, in a statement to the press when asked what had failed in that agreement said, "This question has been asked me several times, but I don't know what has failed. RENAMO says it was a failure on the part of the government to comply with the Rome agreements, but they can't show me what."
In the October 5 interview with ACI Africa correspondent, the Bishop of the Diocese of Chimoio blamed the ineffectiveness of the Rome-mediated agreement on lack of inclusiveness and a rush to return to elections at the time of the mediation.
"I think that there was not a full length of the Rome agreement because the question of reconciliation of the Mozambicans was set aside and the elections were prioritized at the time and the winner of the elections ended up being the winner of the war,” Bishop João Carlos said.
He added, “I am speaking of the war of 16 years, which was supposed to be a war without losers or winners, so those who governed the country set aside for me some crucial aspects that we so longed for.”
The Prelate further said that the country is unable to conclude the whole process of consolidation and peace-building, which was proving to be “a rather tenuous and fragile process.”
“Proof of this are the subsequent agreements that we have been signing, which for me, deep down, they seek to mitigate aspects that were not observed or not well deepened in past processes,” Bishop João Carlos told ACI Africa correspondent.
According to the Bishop of the Diocese of Chimoio, the day of peace in Manica Province in particular and in some districts, was spent by many trying to survive.
“In areas that have suffered attacks by the so-called armed men of the self-proclaimed military junta, the population is looking for safe places. And uncertainty looms,” he said.
The Bishop explained that peace does not depend only on the signing of documents but on how people live after a peace deal and how they share concerns and solve problems.
Despite signing three peace deals in Mozambique since 1992, insecurity still prevails in the former Portuguese colony, creating thousands of refugees especially in the North amid attacks led by the insurgents and other outfits opposed to the government.
Cabo Delgado, the Northernmost Province that is under Mozambique’s Pemba Diocese has been worst affected by insecurity. In August, Pope Francis reach out to the Local Ordinary, Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa to express his closeness to him and the people of God under his care amid reported jihadist attacks.
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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa