Demobilised associations oppose demonstrations

A group of 14 associations of Mozambican demobilized soldiers have distanced themselves from threats to hold demonstrations unless the government includes former militiamen in the definition of “veterans”.

According to a report in Tuesday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, the threats came from Herminio dos Santos, who claims to lead one wing of the deeply divided Forum of Mozambican Demobilised Soldiers (FDGM).

Dos Santos is still demanding that militiamen, including the peasant militias in Zambezia and Nampula provinces known as “naparamas”, should be considered as veterans, and thus enjoy the various privileges granted under the Statute of Veterans approved by the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, in May.

On Monday, the associations met with the leadership of the Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs. Participants cited by “Noticias” pointed out that the Statute of Veterans resulted from consensus achieved in discussions between the associations and the Ministry. In those discussions, militiamen and naparamas were never considered as veterans.

The Statute enshrines rights already granted to veterans of the anti-colonial struggle under previous legislation, and for the first time grants bonuses to demobilized soldiers who fought on both sides during the war of destabilisation (between 1977 and 1992).

The veterans are also entitled to free or subsidised medical care and public transport and to subsidised funerals.

Excluded from these benefits are conscripts who spent two years or less in the army, or in Renamo’s guerrilla forces, and all those who operated in militias that were not part of the formal armed forces.

The “Noticias” source accused Herminio dos Santos of working with an unnamed western embassy to promote destabilisation. Supposedly dos Santos had been meeting with these diplomats on Monday.

“We are aware of these plans”, said the source. “We have all the information about the meeting held in the embassy, and the matters that were discussed. At the appropriate moment we will make a public denunciation so that all Mozambicans may know who is behind this plan to lead the country to disorder”.

The meeting between the associations and the Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs discussed the set of regulations that will implement the Statute of Veterans. According to the Ministry’s press attaché, Lourenco Tchado, the regulations are being finalized and will shortly be approved by the government.

Tchado said the Ministry informed the associations that some 40,000 cards entitling the bearer to medical care are being distributed to veterans, and that funding has been arranged for 25 projects that will generate income for demobilized soldiers.

Post published in: Africa News

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