Afonso Dhlakama dies – what now for Moz?

Afonso Dhlakama (Photo: Bulaway24 News)

Afonso Dhlakama, a thorn in the side of Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo party for nearly 40 years, died yesterday, apparently of kidney failure caused by diabetes – in or near his Gorongosa mountain hideout early on Thursday.

His sudden departure from Mozambique’s political stage, on which he played such a prominent role for so long, has created uncertainty about the future of his Renamo party and that of the country. Especially as he and the country’s President Filipe Nyusi seemed to be on the verge of concluding negotiations to end Renamo’s resumption of low-level military warfare over the past few years. The result of his death would “probably be instability within Renamo as there is no clear successor”, said an official in South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation.

“But no serious impact on the general stability of the country and probably the end of Renamo’s threat to Frelimo.”

Fauvet said Dhlakama “exercised iron control over Renamo, and there is no obvious successor, nobody who can negotiate with Nyusi with the same authority”. “The worst possible outcome would be for Renamo to fall apart, with its armed force just becoming groups of bandits raiding villages and staging ambushes. Hopefully, the government and the remaining Renamo leadership can negotiate some kind of stopgap solution that will avoid such a scenario.”


Dhlakama will leave a highly controversial legacy. Some will see him as a key architect in Mozambique’s transition from a one-party Marxist state in the early 1990s, others as a warlord and collaborator who was sponsored by first the white Rhodesian government and then the apartheid government, to destabilise the Frelimo government.

Daily Maverick