The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, has suspended its plenary sessions scheduled for this week to allow deputies to attend the funeral ceremonies for Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the main opposition party, the rebel movement Renamo, who died last Thursday.
Today, there will be an official funeral for Dhlakama, as dictated by the 2014 law on the status of the leader of the second most voted party in the Mozambican parliament.
It was not yet clear whether President Filipe Nyusi would attend the funeral – but he had postponed state visits that he was to have made to Norway and Finland.
Renamo will hold the public funeral for Dhlakama at the Ferroviario da Beira football ground.
Tomorrow, Dhlakama’s body will be taken to his birthplace at Mangunde, in Chibabava district, where he will be buried.
Mangunde is named after Dhlakama’s father, who is the “regulo” (traditional chief) of the region. The 92 year old chief was completely unaware that his son was severely ill with diabetes, the disease that eventually killed him.
Other reports say that Dhlakama died of a heart attack.
When a team from the independent television station STV, visited Mangunde, the chief said that since he did not know his son was ill, the news of his death took him completely by surprise.
The chief is evidently in fragile health himself, and needs assistance in walking. The Chibabava district government has allocated an ambulance and a medical team to accompany him permanently.
In Beira, the head of the Renamo parliamentary group, Ivone Soares, who is Dhlakama’s niece, told reporters, “I still don’t believe that my uncle has died”.
Speaking after a religious ceremony Soares urged Mozambicans not to be “cowards”, just because “Dhlakama is no longer among the living . . . ”
Ossufo Momade, a former secretary-general of Renamo and member of parliament since 1999, and a general in Renamo’s army, was named Friday as coordinator of the party’s political commission, effectively temporary leader of the party.
Momade was named at a meeting of the political commission in Beira on May 4, and he will hold this position until the next meeting of the Renamo national council, or until Renamo holds a congress.
CanalMoz, normally well informed on Renamo, reported on May4 that Dhlakama had health problems that worsened over the preceding 10 days, exacerbated by the conditions of the rural base near the Gorongosa mountain to which he moved in September 2015.
There was also a delay in deciding to summon a helicopter to evacuate Dhlakama to South Africa.
Soares, head of the Renamo bench in parliament, told O Pais on May 6 that when she spoke to him on April 30, he only complained of a cold and did not seem seriously ill.
But President Nyusi said that he had been sick for a week.
“I feel depressed because I could not help. I had little time. I was able to send a helicopter but it did not go in time to solve my brother’s problem,” he said, adding “I feel a lot of pain because I had information that he was in agony,” according to O Pais, Radio Mocambique.
Dhlakama led the rebel group Renamo for almost four decades and fought a 16-year civil war with the Frelimo government.
Renamo was a creation of the Rhodesians in the mid-seventies as they tried to derail the war of liberation for Zimbabwe. – News Agencies/HR.