Maputo — Gunmen of Mozambique's former rebel movement Renamo have been seen in Nhamatanda district, in the central province of Sofala, about 60 kilometres west of the city of Beira, according to a report by the independent television station, STV.
A police spokesperson confirmed to STV that Renamo groups had been spotted in the localities of Muda and Tica, but had not opened fire or caused any damage.
The last time an armed Renamo group appeared in this area was on 4 December, when they attacked the Tica police stations and health centre. In that raid, the gunmen carried away large quantities of medicines and foodstuffs then, but did not harm anyone.
STV also reported that the Vanduzi administrative post in Gorongosa district, also in Sofala, has been completely abandoned, following the clashes between government forces and Renamo. The only things moving around the buildings in Vanduzi are goats.
The former Renamo headquarters of Satunjira, seized by the armed forces on 21 October, is in Vanduzi. Repeated clashes in the area have led residents to seek safety, in Gorongosa town.
STV found that almost every building in Vanduzi has been vandalized - including both government premises and the local Renamo offices.
Faced with about 4,000 displaced people living in temporary shelter, the Gorongosa authorities are now distributing plots of land, on which they can build new homes.
The tensions in Sofala are having a serious impact on transport companies, because passengers are proving reluctant to travel along roads on which they might come under attack.
There have been no attacks in Manica province, but any ne wishing to travel to other parts of the country from Manica must go through Sofala. Those heading south have no option but to use the main north-south highway, where there have been regular Renamo ambushes on the stretch between the small town of Muxungue and the Save river.
Manica bus companies, reports STV, complain that they are losing revenue because of the decline in the number of passengers going from the provincial capital, Chimoio, to Maputo or to other cities such as Quelimane and Nampula.
The chairperson of the Manica Association of Passenger Transport Operators, Arnaldo Jordao, says that six companies are now in difficulties, and face problems in paying off their debts to the banks.