Maputo — Mozambique's former rebel movement Renamo on Wednesday announced that the armed men operating in Homoine district, in the southern province of Inhambane, are members of Renamo's illegal security force.
Addressing a Maputo press conference, the Renamo national spokesperson, Fernando Mazanga, claimed that these men were people “who were purged from the national army, or who were never integrated into the army, because of government neglect”. They were people “native to or resident in Inhambane province”.
There are several problems with this account. First, the Renamo security force, its so-called “Presidential Guard”, has never been seen in Inhambane province before. Secondly, Homoine residents who have been in contact with the group told reporters they do not speak the local languages. Instead they communicate in the official language, Portuguese, or in Sena and Ndau, the main languages spoken in the central province of Sofala. This strongly suggests that they have recently moved from the Renamo bases in Sofala to Homoine.
As for “not being integrated”, when the new national army, the FADM, was set up on 1994, under the peace agreement between Renamo and the government it had to consist entirely of volunteers, 15,000 from the old government army, the FPLM, and 15,000 from Renamo.
But there were nowhere near 30,000 volunteers, and troops from both sides staged a wave of mutinies in mid-1994, rather than be pressganged into the FADM. All volunteers were welcomed, and there was no question of excluding anyone.
Mazanga claimed the group in Homoine had wanted to join Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama in Sofala, after his base, at Satunjira, was occupied by government forces on 21 October,
Dhlakama turned down this request “because he believes that if all the Renamo security is concentrated in Sofala, it could seem that government action is only against the centre of the country, while in reality the problems in the south and north are the same as those in the centre”.
“The political problem that sets Renamo against the government is a national problem, to do with the lack of democracy in the country”, said Mazanga.
It is not clear how Mazanga can know about communications between the Homoine group and Dhlakama. On previous occasions, Mazanga has claimed that the Maputo Renamo office has no contact with Dhlakama, who has not been seen in public since the fall of Satunjira.
On Wednesday he admitted that the Maputo office has no contact with the unit in Homoine. So he did not know anything about the clashes reported on Tuesday in Homoine, and he refused to say how many Renamo “security” are involved.
Nonetheless he claimed that Renamo had sent a clear message to its men “never to be hostile towards the population, to comfort the people, to defend them if necessary, and to introduce themselves to the local traditional authorities”.
So the Renano security force “brings the message of respecting the people, their possessions and their traditions”.
Another reason for Renamo “security” operatives in the south to stay there, Mazanga continued, “is that many of the FADM recruits attacking the centre of the country are trained and equipped in the south, and transported from the south, so Renamo believes these incursions should be stopped at the point they originate from”.
Any other Renamo groups elsewhere in the country “who want to take this initiative will receive the same guidelines”, he added
Mazanga said Renamo regretted that the situation had reached this point “because Renamo does not want war”. Instead it wanted peace and democracy and wanted “all parties to participate in elections on an equal footing”.
He boasted that “nobody and nothing will keep Renamo out of elections”. In reality, Renamo keeps itself out: it boycotted the municipal elections held in November last year, and the municipal by-elections held in 2010 and 2011.
If Renamo keeps up this policy, its name will not be on the ballot paper for the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 15 October this year. Voter registration begins later this month, and if Dhlakama wishes to stand for the presidency, he must come out of hiding in order to register.