15 March 2013

Mozambique: Renamo Accused of Cholera Riots

Maputo — A parliamentary deputy from Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo Party on Friday publicly accused the main opposition force, the former rebel movement Renamo, of responsibility for the disinformation about cholera which has led to rioting and murders in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

Cholera broke out in late January in the province, Between 29 January and 11 March, 800 cases of the disease were notified – 460 in the provincial capital, Pemba, 179 in Mecufi district and 161 in Metuge district.

Three of the victims died – a lethality rate of 0.37 per cent.

As has happened repeatedly in northern Mozambique in recent years, in some areas mobs attacked health workers and local officials, blaming them for spreading the disease. Cabo Delgado deputy Alberto Nankuta declared that Renamo was behind this unrest, which had involved the murder of two officials who were Frelimo members.

Speaking in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Friday, Nankuta said that the efforts of the provincial government to halt the spread of the epidemic were hindered “by people of bad faith, by some opposition politicians who, unable to find any credible discourse to recover the grass roots they have lost, promote shameless disinformation about cholera”.

They had “promoted violence in the communities, and the destruction of health equipment”, he said. “They attack health professionals, and most seriously they beat up and lynch community leaders, including Frelimo secretaries who are accused of spreading the disease”.

While carrying out these crimes, Nankuta accused, “they chant Viva! (Long live!) to an opposition party whose chosen symbol is a bird”. (The Renamo symbol is a partridge).

Giving details on the murder of the two Frelimo officials, Nankuta said that one of them, Cesario Bachir, a community leader in Mecufi, was buried alive, up to his neck, and then killed.

On 3 March, a Frelimo branch secretary named Omar Nacir, was seized and killed, for the same alleged reason, in Macomia district (even though no cases of cholera have yet been confirmed in Macomia).

Mozambique could not continue to tolerate such behaviour, said Nankuta, in which politicians are using obscurantism as a weapon. The people behind the murders “should receive exemplary punishment to discourage further criminal acts covered up by political party flags”.

He urged opposition parties “to join the noble cause of defending the people, by becoming involved patriotically in the campaigns to make people aware of the measures required to prevent diseases”.

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