In a telephone interview published in December, when asked when the current armed clashes would end, Dhlakama replied “It can’t be this year, but in January or February we will have peace. I am convinced of that”.
But when the independent newsheet “Mediafax” contacted the spokesperson for Dhlakama’s office, Antonio Muchanga, he brushed Dhlakama’s words aside, and blamed the conflict on the government.
Cited in Monday’s issue of “Mediafax”, Muchanga said the early 2014 deadline for peace “was the wish of the President (Dhlakama). It might happen, just as it might not happen. Everything depends on the will of the other side”.
January is now moving to its end, with continued reports of attacks by Renamo gunmen against civilian and military targets in the Gorongosa and Muxungue areas of Sofala province, and parts of Homoine and Funhaloro distructs in Inhambane.
Contrary to Muxanga’s suggestion, the attacks are all carried out by Renamo, and not by the government.
Muchanga accused the government of “warmongering” and claimed it had spent “a great part of the nation’s resources” in purchasing armament “to pursue the populations who identify with Renamo”.
In fact, the government has been making military purchases which must have been planned well before the current deterioration in the security situation. The largest items in these purchases, such as boats to patrol the Mozambique Channel, and reconditioned MiG-21 fighter planes, are completely useless for the current conflict between the government forces and small Renamo units.
As for spending vast amounts of money on the military, the total allocation to the armed forces (FADM) in the 2014 budget is 2.2 per cent of total expenditure. The allocation for the Defence Ministry is 5.8 per cent, but only because the purchase of a fleet of 24 tuna fishing vessels and six patrol boats by the company EMATUM (Mozambique Tuna Company) was shoved into the Ministry’s capital budget. Without the EMATUM boats, Defence Ministry expenditure would have been 0.6 per cent of the total.
This compares with 18.1 per cent for education, 9.1 per cent for health, 15.3 per cent for infrastructures (such as roads and water supply), and 10.3 per cent for agriculture.
Muchanga also complained of alleged detentions of Renamo members, claiming that ten are detained in the police cells in the northern city of Nampula, without access to a lawyer.
Muchanga said Renamo and Dhlakama had hoped that Mozambicans would enjoy the festive season “with the problems of 2013 solved. But the other side didn’t want that. Up until now, we are waiting for the other side to give signs of peace”.
It is not at all clear on what basis Muchanga can speak in Dhlakama’s name, since nobody knows where he is, and the Renamo Maputo office has admitted losing all contact with its leader. After the FADM occupied the Renamo headquarters at Satunjira, in Gorongosa district, on 21 October, Dhlakama fled into the bush and has not been seen in public since.
Renamo ambushes on the main north-south road, on the stretch between the Save river and the small town of Muxungue in Sofala, are continuing. On Saturday morning a convoy of vehicles under military escort came under Renamo attack shortly after it had left Muxungue heading southwards.
“Mediafax” reports that the main target was a civilian bus owned by the company “Maning Nice”. One person died on the spot, and four others were injured, all of them passengers on board the bus. The four were taken to Muxungue Rural Hospital, where one of them died from his injuries.
There are also reports of an attack on Sunday, at about 13.30, against a convoy travelling in the opposite direction. Two people were injured, and there are no reports of fatalities.Post published in: Africa News