The attack took place on the country’s main north-south highway, on the stretch between the Save river and the small town of Muxungue. Normally, the Mozambican armed forces and police escort vehicles along this 100 kilometre stretch. But the minibus, which started its journey in the district of Machanga, joined the road after the river, and the driver did not wait for the next convoy.
Some hours after the attack, Guebuza’s official spokesperson, Edson Macuacua, told reporters in Beira he found it strange and worrying that when Renamo attacks occur, some of those who call themselves leaders of civil society “remain silent”.
“They don’t take any position, they don’t have any message, they don’t even express regrets at these inhuman acts”, he accused.
But when the defence and security forces react to such attacks these same civil society leaders “seem frenetic and make inflammatory speeches of condemnation”.
“We should ask: who do these civil society leaders serve? What agenda are they following?”, Macuacua asked. “It seems that they are pursuing interests and objectives that they cannot admit and that are contrary to national interests”.
Although Macuacua did not name the leaders he had in mind, his remarks were clearly aimed at Alice Mabota, the President of the Mozambican Human Rights League (LDH), who, at a press conference last week, claimed that the government violated the Constitution when it sent the armed forces (FADM) to occupy the Renamo bush headquarters at Satunjira, in the central district of Gorongosa.
Macuacua found this thesis absurd. “We would like to clarify that the intervention by the defence and security forces is covered by the Constitution”, he said. “Had they not acted that would have been a violation of the Constitution by omission, since the defence and security forces would not have been complying with their mission”.
Article 265 of the Constitution states that defence and security policy “seeks to defend national independence, preserve the sovereignty and integrity of the country, and guarantee the normal functioning of institutions and the security of citizens against any armed aggression”.
Macuacua argued that this covered the action against Satunjira. Renamo had been “endangering national sovereignty, the functioning of state institutions, the security of the state and, above all, the security of citizens”. That meant that the reaction from the armed forces and police was legitimate and within the Constitution.
Macuacua said that Guebuza remains open to dialogue with Renamo and its leader, Afonso Dhlakama, but he would not abdicate from resort to the defence and security forces to defend the State from armed actions by Renamo.
“The state”, he said, “has the duty to act when it is a matter of defending and guaranteeing the security of the State and its institutions against these repeated attacks by Renamo”.
Nonetheless, Guebuza was still willing to talk and “reiterates his appeal to the Renamo leader to abandon the attacks and return to the dialogue table. But putting dialogue in first place, as a path to the consolidation of peace, should at no time mean that the defence and security forces are excused from complying with their mission, and that the State and the citizens are left unprotected”.
Renamo has denied responsibility for Saturday’s attack. Cited in Monday’s issue of the independent newsheet “Mediafax”, the party’s national spokesperson, Fernando Mazanga, said attribution of the attack to Renamo is just “political propaganda”.
But the fact remains that one man is dead, and others are being treated in hospital for their injuries. Attacking and burning buses has been a hallmark of Renamo activity ever since it was set up by the intelligence services of the Ian Smith regime in Rhodesia in 1977. The attack also took place on a stretch of road that Renamo specifically targeted in a public statement by the head of the Renamo information department, Jeronimo Malagueta, in June.Post published in: Africa News