Maputo — The hundreds of demobilised guerrillas of Mozambique's former rebel movement Renamo who have been camped out in the northern city of Nampula for months went there because their leaders promised them money, according to a Friday report on the independent television station STV.
Renamo had given the impression that that the former guerrillas had gathered in Nampula to launch the anti-government demonstrations that the party's leader, Afonso Dhlakama, has promised so often.
But demobilized men arrested after Thursday's clashes with the police at the Renamo Nampula office told reporters that they came to the city because Dhlakama told them, via the Renamo delegates in the Nampula districts, they were to be paid for "a second demobilization".
The men did not know exactly how much money they would receive: that would depend on how long each of them had sent in the Renamo army during the war of destabilisation.
In the event, all they received during the time they were camped outside the Nampula office was 2,000 meticais (about 74 US dollars) a month each. The reason they stayed was not so much that they did not have the bus fare home, but they were waiting for the promised payment.
The men now in police custody also confirmed that some of the demobilized soldiers had died of disease due to the squalid conditions in the Renamo camp. Members of the Nampula Forum of Religious Denominations, which brings together local Christian and Moslem leaders, said on Monday that three of the Renamo members had died, and there were fears that the unsanitary camp could spread diarrhoeal diseases, including cholera.
These reports were dismissed by Renamo general secretary Ossufo Momade who denied that anyone had died.
Meanwhile life in Nampula has begun to return to normal after a day in which much of the economic and social life of the city was paralysed. Some Nampula banks closed for the day, as did many shops, while others put more security guards on their doors.
Attendance at city schools was poor, since parents kept their children indoors until they were sure the crisis had passed.
But after the police had stormed the Renamo camp early in the morning, there were no further disturbances. Most of the demobilized men who escaped arrest took refuge at Dhlakama's house, which is now surrounded by police.
Nampula residents interviewed by STV said they wanted protection from the police, and wanted Dhlakama to leave the city.