“The Wish for Peace is Genuine”: Former Personal Envoy for Mozambique Reflects on an End to Hostilities in the Country

Politically Speaking
4 min readFeb 2, 2024

Politically Speaking talks to the former Personal Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Mozambique, Ambassador Mirko Manzoni of Switzerland, about his work for peace in the southern African nation.

President of the Republic of Mozambique Filipe Jacinto Nyusi and leader of Renamo Ossufo Momade at the signing of the Maputo Accord for Peace and National Reconciliation in Maputo on 6 August 2019, witnessed by the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Mozambique Mirko Manzoni (left). Photo: Secretariat for Peace Process.

I n 2023, Mozambique achieved a significant milestone in the process to definitively overcome the conflict that once pitted the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) in a brutal civil war. The closure of the 16th and final RENAMO base in June 2023 marked the successful settlement of all the group’s 5,221 former combatants, including 271 women and 4,950 men, in communities across the country. International support, including from the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Mozambique, has proved crucial to the success of the process so far.

The former Personal Envoy, now the Swiss Ambassador to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Mauritius and Eswatini, Mirko Manzoni, sat down with Politically Speaking to reflect on the journey leading to peace.

Personal Envoy Manzoni (left) and Senior Advisor Neha Sanghrajka (right) speak with RENAMO leader Osufo Momade (centre) in Vunduzi, Sofala province, June 2023.Photo: Peace Process Secretariat.

“Good offices” and the path to peace

As Swiss Ambassador to the country and, from 2019–2023 as Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Mozambique, Manzoni spent a total of seven years accompanying the negotiations that led to the historic peace agreement between the Government of Mozambique and RENAMO, the Maputo Accord. The success of the Mozambique peace process, he underlined, could be attributed to several factors. Above all, the process was nationally led, with the government and RENAMO taking ownership and initiative in establishing a national peace architecture. “The wish for peace is genuine,” he recalls thinking at the time, adding “It is a truly honest process.”

Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Mozambique, Mirko Manzoni, at the official ceremony of the successful completion of the Disarmament and Demobilization phase of the peace process, Maputo, June 2023. Photo: Peace Process Secretariat.

Manzoni said he spent time engaging in shuttle diplomacy between President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi and RENAMO’s leader, Afonso Dhlakama (later succeeded by Ossufo Momade) He noted that “the commitment to the process by both parties fostered trust”, which very quickly led to the 2016 ceasefire and 2019 peace agreement.

President of the Republic of Mozambique Filipe Jacinto Nyusi and leader of Renamo Ossufo Momade at the signing of the Maputo Accord for Peace and National Reconciliation in Maputo on 6 August 2019, pictured with the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Mozambique Mirko Manzoni (left) and Ignazio Cassis (right) Head of the Swiss Federal Department of International Relations. Photo: Peace Process Secretariat.

The former Envoy also highlighted the importance placed by the Accord on supporting reintegration into civilian life for the former RENAMO members. He went on to speak about the recent decree incorporating eligible demobilized DDR beneficiaries into the national pension system, calling it “a clear demonstration” of the commitment to a peaceful Mozambique.

On reintegration, Manzoni highlighted efforts to prioritize the voices and experiences of community members and former combatants, in order to strengthen social cohesion in communities, and to advance reintegration and national reconciliation.

Personal Envoy Manzoni (centre) and Senior Advisor Neha Sanghrajka (left) talk to a DDR beneficiary (right) who has just received his reintegration material in Macuba, Zambezia province, 2022. Photo: Peace Process Secretariat.

The former Personal Envoy said that the core mediation team played an important facilitation role, but it was the government that took the first step of championing national solutions to the country’s problems by listening and creating a culture of dialogue between itself and RENAMO. With that, he said Mozambique had demonstrated the gains that can be made with negotiations, and can stand as an example of the successful resolution of armed conflict through dialogue.

“Following more than four years of implementation, the Maputo Accord for Peace and National Reconciliation is steadily establishing deeper roots,” he said. “The peace process is a showcase for Mozambique’s leaders’ commitment to dialogue as the only road towards a lasting peace.”

From independence to a new dispensation

Shortly after gaining independence in 1975, Mozambique endured a long and brutal civil war. In 1992, the ruling party, the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO), and the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) struck an agreement for peace. A UN peacekeeping mission was deployed until the country’s first multiparty elections in 1994. Violence re-surfaced in 2012 and in early 2016 a new round of talks — the Avenida process — began. It ended, without results, five short months later.

Later that year, President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, and the President of RENAMO, Afonso Dhlakama, agreed to engage in peace talks. Swiss Ambassador to Mozambique, Mirko Manzoni, and fellow mediator Neha Sanghrajka, conducted shuttle diplomacy between the two parties, who then engaged in direct negotiations. A ceasefire was announced on 27 December 2016, and the national peace process began on 1 March 2017.

A Decentralization Commission, to design a proposal for a new framework for decentralization; a Military Affairs Commission, to table a proposal for the definitive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of RENAMO combatants; and a Joint Monitoring and Verification Team, to oversee adherence to the ceasefire and investigate reports of conflicts as a confidence building measure, were all established. The Agreement on the Definitive Cessation of Military Hostilities and the Maputo Accord for Peace and National Reconciliation was signed in August 2019.

Learn more about the Maputo Accord here.

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Politically Speaking

The online magazine of the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs