Important steps towards sustainable peace in Mozambique
Celestina Napulo is one of the many former RENAMO combatants, now embarking on a new chapter in civilian life.
15 June this year marked a historic moment: the disarmament and demobilisation of the final group of former RENAMO (Mozambican National Resistance) combatants was formally completed with the closure of their last military base and headquarters in Vunduzi, Sofala Province. This ended a long-standing conflict that reignited in 2012. Following intense negotiations between the Government and RENAMO, with support from the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary General, a peace agreement – the Maputo Accord for Peace and National Reconciliation (Maputo Accord) – was signed in 2019, paving the way for the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) process.
Celestina Napulo is one of the many former combatants embarking on a new chapter in life.
– I was recruited by RENAMO when I was 12 years old and have spent many years in the military. Now I want my pension and to live a civilian life.
Sustainable implementation of the peace agreement
In mid-September this year, FBA and its Mozambician partners conducted a dialogue exercise in Gurúè, Zambézia province. Among the participants were Celestina Napulo and other former RENAMO combatants. Traditional and religious leaders, as well as representatives from the Government, also participated. By creating space for dialogue between representatives of the conflict parties, the activity aimed to strengthen social cohesion and contribute to peaceful coexistence.
– FBA supports dialogue, reconciliation, and the continued reintegration of former combatants. These are important areas for Mozambique to finally put an end to this "old" conflict once and for all, says Klara Grenhagen, Specialist in Dialogue and Peace Mediation at FBA.
Since 2020, FBA, in close cooperation with the Peace Process Secretariat (PPS), which supports all aspects of the implementation of the Maputo Accord, has regularly gathered representatives from the Government and RENAMO, from district and provincial levels. Relationship building and capacity strengthening have been the focus of these interactions, especially to ensure the delicate reintegration of those who previously fought for RENAMO works well, both for the former combatants and the communities receiving them.
The needs of former combatants
At the invitation of PPS, FBA was present on the ground, acting in an observer role during parts of the formal disarmament and demobilisation activities of RENAMO’s final base earlier this year.
– We got the impression that the process worked well and that there was a clear focus on addressing the various needs of the combatants as they began their transition to civilian life. The combatants I had the opportunity to speak with during the visit expressed both great relief and some concerns about the future, says Vilhelm Fritzon, Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration Officer at FBA.
The concerns partly pertained to the promised pensions, which will be crucial for the daily lives of the majority of the former combatants. Pension payments are due to begin after the Government passed a decree extending pension eligibility to DDR beneficiaries.
Several also expressed fear of reprisals and stigmatisation when they no longer carry weapons.
– Continued efforts for dialogue and reconciliation are central to Mozambique's future, not least in light of the situation in the north. Another violent conflict is on-going there, which despite being pushed back militarily, continues to exacerbate the already difficult living conditions in the region, says Klara Grenhagen.
Together with Mozambican partners, FBA is planning how activities for the remainder of 2023 can best be designed to also support conflict management in northeastern Mozambique.
FBA's work on peace and security in Mozambique is carried out in close collaboration with actors working on issues such as the environment and climate, human rights, economic development, and democracy. In addition to Mozambican partners, the Swedish Embassy in Maputo, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the PPS are important collaboration partners.