MAPUTO, Mozambique’s main opposition party, Renamo, has tried to block an official visit by President Filipe Nyusi to Botswana.

Such visits must be approved by the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, and so an extraordinary meeting of the Assembly’s governing board, its Standing Commission, has been called to approve (or reject) the presidential request to visit Botswana on April 24 and 25.

The Renamo parliamentary group on Tuesday circulated a document signed by its head, Ivone Soares, opposing the visit, on the grounds that the country “has been plunged into a great financial crisis, with negative repercussions on the lives of citizens”.

She claimed that there is “a galloping increase in the prices of all goods and services”, although in reality, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE), inflation, as calculated by the consumer price indices for the three largest cities (Maputo, Nampula and Beira) is slowing down. Inflation in March was at 0.88 per cent, compared with 1.25 per cent in February and 2.15 per cent in January.

The only item Soares specifically mentioned was bread, alleging that because of price rises it had become “out of reach” for ordinary citizens. She also stressed the shortage of passenger transport in the cities, and claimed there is a lack of basic medicines in the country’s health units.

Soares protested at the supposedly high costs of Nyusi’s visits abroad, and said the request for authorization did not state the purpose of the President’s visit to Botswana or how much it would cost. She said Renamo believed the government’s efforts should be directed as a priority at matters inside Mozambique rather than “frequent visits abroad with unknown agendas and results”.

Since the ruling Frelimo Party enjoys a comfortable majority on the Standing Commission there can be little doubt that Nyusi’s request will be approved.

Mozambique and Botswana are both members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and Botswanan President Ian Khama made a State visit to Mozambique in May 2016. During that visit the two countries signed an agreement on geology and mining that will give Mozambique access to Botswana’s expertise in those areas.

Botswana is also interested in exporting coal along a new railway to the Mozambican coast, where a deep water port would be built at Ponto Techobanine.