31 May 2012

Mozambique: Maputo City Council Downplays Threat of Demonstrations in the Capital

Maputo — Maputo City Council on Thursday downplayed the threat of demonstrations that have been called for Friday through SMS text messages circulating in the Mozambican capital.

Since Wednesday evening there have been calls circulating by SMS text messages and on social networks asking people to join "a massive demonstration".

The messages state that the demonstration is scheduled to protest against the rising cost of living due to the high costs of public transport and staple foods such as tomatoes, potatoes, rice, and bread.

The messages argue that another reason for the demonstration is the removal of stalls from the streets, recently carried out by the municipal authorities.

"Please keep your children at home and avoid walking in the streets, because you could become victims of this demonstration. Protesters have pledged to vandalise schools, homes and shops. Be very careful!" reads the text.

However, Maputo City Council has assured citizens that there will be no such demonstration. The authorities warn that, should it happen, the police are ready and positioned to intervene to restore law and order.

Speaking at Maputo press conference on Thursday the Councillor for Transport, Joao Matlombe, explained that this is an attempt to cause a disturbance, because public demonstrations are allowed under the Mozambican Constitution, provided they are peaceful and authorized by the authorities.

"We urge people not to join this demonstration should it happen, because it will harm our economy and our families. The reasons behind this call for a demonstration are still unclear. Therefore, it is hard to find a solution and tell what is happening", he said.

Matlombe added that "tomorrow is a normal day and everyone should go to work. Tomorrow is International Children's Day which they should celebrate and we, as parents, should accompany them (children) to school and not keep them at home".

Matlombe, who is also the spokesperson for the City Council stressed that "every citizen should ensure security, because the people behind these demonstrations are related to us, including our friends, our children, brothers, or nephews, who we must discourage otherwise the police will be asked to intervene causing a number of problems".

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