New Year's Op-Ed - Ambassador Dean Pittman. December, 28, 2016
New Year's Op-Ed - Ambassador Dean Pittman
Ambassador Dean Pittman's New Year's Op-Ed
A new year always brings with it a time for reflection. It is natural to look at where we’ve been as we prepare for the path forward. This has been a difficult year for Mozambique but there is reason for optimism as we begin 2017.
April brought revelations of $2 billion in debt incurred by the Mozambican government that had previously been kept secret. The impact of these illegal loans on the economy and investor and donor confidence has been felt across the country. The steps the government is now taking – an independent audit and an investigation of wrong doing by the Attorney General – are critical to restoring confidence and putting the economy back on a sustainable path.
Alongside these economic problems we have witnessed continued violence: raids on health clinics, murders of politicians, attacks on convoys, and kidnappings. This violence has ended lives, damaged families, interrupted commerce, and kept children out of school. The commitment of both sides to seek a peaceful and durable solution to the ongoing violence is welcomed. We hope that commitment will result in an agreement to put Mozambique back on a path of peace and stability. From my travels around the country, I know that is also what the people of Mozambique sincerely want. The recent announcement of a truce and a temporary end to the violence is an encouraging sign and one we hope will lead to a lasting and durable peace. The contribution of all stakeholders to a lasting peace, as well as a journalism promoting peace in the public and private media, are of paramount importance to an effective national reconciliation that contributes to a climate of harmony and a healthy coexistence between actors from across the spectrum.
The United States has been a strong partner with Mozambique over the last 40 years and I have great affection for this country. It has saddened me to watch the tribulations of the past year, but I know 2017 can be better.
The path forward cannot be separated from the past, but it is not determined by the past. The past can be an anchor, holding us back, languishing in familiar waters. Or it can be a root, grounding us but feeding new life and growth beyond what we once were.
The problems of the past year were the result of decisions and actions. Their resolution will also be the result of decisions and actions. Peace and economic development are not matters of chance. They require courage and leadership.
I believe the steps taken in 2016 – commitment to a mediated political settlement and undertaking an independent audit – offer hope for a peaceful and prosperous 2017. What’s more, Mozambique’s leaders say they believe that too.
On December 21, President Nyusi said: "We do not neglect to search continuously for solutions to an effective peace. Our commitment to the Mozambican people remains a priority. "
On that same day, in a broadcast interview Dhalakama said: "The people must have hope that 2017 will be a year of peace for all Mozambicans. I promise peace, I as leader of Renamo will do everything in my power to dialogue with my brother Nyusi, so that peace is achieved. " It is my hope for the people of Mozambique that in this new year, the words of these leaders will become decisive action, that there will again be peace in Mozambique, and that transparency and fiscal responsibility will restore economic growth. As a friend and partner to this wonderful country, the United States remains committed to supporting these efforts in any way that we can.