Speaking at the opening in the southern city of Matola of a National Conference of Frelimo Cadres, held as part of the preparations for the 11th Congress of Frelimo, scheduled for September 2017, Nyusi said “our sense of responsibility, our tolerance and our patience must never mean that we are afraid to defend this country, which we liberated with so much sacrifice”.
“Peace yes, but not at any price”, he insisted, making it clear that no deal between the government and the Renamo rebels could violate the country’s constitution and laws.
“Our stance of tolerance and dialogue contrasts markedly with the warmongering posture of Renamo, which is the enemy of peace and of progress in Mozambique”, added Nyusi. “Renamo has publicly taken a position of generalizing the conflict, to worsen still further the suffering of the people”.
Peace, he said, was a burning issue precisely because “a small group is mercilessly cutting down the lives of Mozambicans”. Renamo was “every day threatening the free circulation of people and goods, making the lives of Mozambicans more difficult”, obliging citizens to produce “under conditions where their lives are at risk”. Marketing of agricultural produce was blocked by Renamo’s armed attacks, and the prices of goods and services were driven upwards.
Under these circumstances, “this question of peace must constitute a national concern”, declared Nyusi. “Frelimo has to discuss and recommend solutions which can lead us to an effective peace, and give tranquility back to the Mozambican people”.
Nyusi stressed that, following the 2017 Congress, Frelimo would face the challenges of the municipal elections scheduled for 2018 and the presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections of 2019.
“Like the previous challenges it has faced since it was founded in 1962, Frelimo has no alternative but to win in all these battles”, he said.
“Our adversaries would like to emulate the victorious journey Frelimo has travelled for more than half a century”, Nyusi continued. “But that would only be possible in parties with an internal democracy similar to ours. It would only be possible with parties rooted in the people as ours is. It would only be possible in parties with dynamic, enthusiastic and ever renewed structures such as those that characterize our party”.
But he warned against taking victory for granted. The fact that Frelimo has won elections so far “should not make us triumphalist”, Nyusi said. “On the contrary, it should be a reason for more commitment, and permanent attempts to do better”.
Frelimo had won in the past because of its discipline and internal cohesion, he argued, and much of his speech was an impassioned call on party members not to allow Frelimo’s discipline and cohesion to be broken.
Discipline was “not a mere expedient for winning elections, but is a defining element of our organization”, Nyusi said. Thus anyone who violates Frelimo’s rules of discipline is attacking “one of our Party’s defining characteristics and founding elements”
“By prioritizing party discipline for 2016, we want to bring this key element for all our victories to the attention of our cadres, members and sympathizers. We want to reaffirm that, just as in the past, the victories of today and tomorrow depend on our capacity to maintain and display a high level and sense of discipline”, he stressed.
He warned that “internal discipline is not compatible with intrigue, with divisive behaviour, with lack of punctuality, and lack of commitment to tasks”.
Discipline, Nyusi continued, “is not to be confused with backbiting, and with lack of respect for higher or lower party bodies. It is not to be confused with liberalism”.
“Being disciplined means being fully aware that the Party’s bodies are much more important than our own egos, or than each of us individually”, he stressed. “To be disciplined is to be fully aware that it is not worth much to be applauded and praised individually, if that applause and praise do not extend to the Party which sustains us, or contribute to corroding the Party’s prestige and good name. Discipline distinguishes us from our enemies”.
Internal cohesion was another “basic element” in Frelimo, Nyusi said, and it exists “when the Party’s bodies, from the branch up to the Congress, are working in a dynamic and harmonious manner”.
“There is cohesion”, he added, “when the spirit of internal unity and of criticism and self-criticism informs the life of each member of our party. Internal cohesion is essential for forming a functional and victorious political organization”.
“Cohesion”, the President continued, “is the shared conviction that differences of opinion should not be a factor of division or of suspicion. On the contrary, they should strengthen internal debate and the search for a common vision”.
Nyusi thought it obvious “that discipline and internal cohesion complete each other and are the key to victory in the challenges we will have to face in the future. They are the key for us to remain relevant as the Party of change, and as the interpreters of the deepest aspirations of our people”.
The three day cadre conference is a consultative event, and so it cannot take decisions that are binding on Frelimo members. Nonetheless the debates among the 3,000 cadres attending the conference here will certainly be taken into consideration when the Frelimo Central Committee meets later in the month.