4 April 2014

Mozambique: Renamo Denies One Train Attack, but Threatens Others

Photo: J. Jackson/VOA
Renamo rebels being re-trained for combat at a remote bush camp near Gorongosa mountains (file photo).

Maputo — Mozambique's former rebel movement Renamo has denied responsibility for the attack on a coal train on the Sena railway line in the central province of Sofala on Tuesday - but in the next breath threatened to launch attacks on all the country's rail corridors.

At a Maputo press conference on Thursday, Antonio Muchanga, the spokesperson for Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, accused government forces of attacking the coal train, which belonged to the Brazilian mining company Vale. He said that, since the dialogue between Renamo and the government in Maputo was close to reaching consensus “now is not the moment for Renamo to attack trains”.

But if there was any “need” for such attacks, Muchanga menaced, they would not be limited to the Sena line, but would take place “everywhere in the country where there are rail corridors, because there are demobilised Renamo fighters throughout the country, and they will be the ones to carry out the attacks, because they are fed up with the situation”.

The attack on the coal train was “an attempt to discredit Renamo”, Muchanga claimed. He alleged that it was also an attempt to distract public attention from such matters as the “handing over of the project to digitalise radio and television to the company of Armando Guebuza and his daughter”.

In fact, the digitalization contract was signed on Tuesday with the Chinese company, Startimes Software Technology, although it is certainly true that President Guebuza's daughter, Valentina, chairs Focus 21, which is the minority shareholder in another company of the Startime group, Startimes Media Mozambique.

Muchanga added “the successive political and economic scandals of the government disturb the President and his acolytes which obliges them to use the riot police and the army in their strategy to distract the Mozambican people by attacking the coal train”.

Muchanga did not present a shred of evidence for this theory. Attacks on rail transport were a well-known and brutally successful Renamo tactic during the war of destabilisation throughout the 1980s. Furthermore, the head of the Renamo information department, Jeronimo Malagueta, publicly threatened attacks against the Sena Line at a Maputo press conference last June.

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