Henriques Dhakama, the oldest son of Afonso Dhlakama, the late leader of Mozambique’s main opposition party, Renamo, has announced his intention of running for President in the general elections scheduled for 2024.
He made the announcement on his Facebook page, in a declaration dated 31 August, in which he declared that he “accepts the commitment of active participation in party and national political life, in support of the national interest”.
Dhlakama said he had taken this decision due to “insistent requests by national and international political and social actors, as well as various elements of the factions within Renamo”.
He said his decision also arose “following the political divisions inside Renamo, which are dragging on; the internal political and security developments of the last year, which I have followed closely with great concern, as well as a multiplicity of contacts, internal and external requests for public intervention as the representative of the Dhlakama legacy and the legitimate and desired mediator in the urgent process of internal pacification”.
Dhlakama said “I feel accompanied by all of you Mozambicans who, in recent days, have sent me thousands of messages of hope, loyalty, encouragement, and others of despair, because change is so late coming”.
“Mozambicans want change and they are fed up, fed up of suffering and seeing their children die, of not having enough to eat, of not having a job, of wars and conflicts. I am absolutely sure that Mozambicans, of all localities and provinces, regardless of political parties or religion, are fed up and together we shall change this country”.
Dhlakama is the first person to announce his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election. None of the three established parties – the ruling Frelimo Party, Renamo and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) – have chosen their candidates yet and, on past showing, are unlikely to do so for at least another three years.
Dhlakama has no prior record of political activity, and holds no position inside Renamo. The only thing playing in his favour is his name.
Friday’s issue of the independent newsheet “Carta de Mocambique” suggests that his real support comes, not from within Mozambique, but from Portugal. Citing the Paris-based newsletter, it says that a small Portuguese consulting and lobbying company, Intellcorp, is behind Dhlakama’s launch into the world of politics.
Intellcorp was founded by a former agent of the Portuguese intelligence service (SIED), Ruben Miguel Ribeiro. This company has supposedly been serving the Dhlakama family for the past year. Ribeiro never rose to any position of influence within the SIED. Before entering the intelligence service, he was a sergeant in the Portuguese army.
The Portuguese magazine “Observador” investigated Intellcorp in September 2016 and found that, although its website listed five offices (including one in Maputo), none of them existed in the real world, but were just “virtual” offices.
On 5 September, Intellcorp announced, on its Facebook page, that it had “increased the scope of its contract with the Dhlakama family, which now includes giving them political advice”.