Verdade (Maputo)

Mozambique: Defense and Security Forces Charge 500 Meticais to Cross the En1 Between Muxúnguè and Save River

After the consensus reached between the Government and Renamo during the negotiations taking place in Maputo, that culminated with Parliament's revision of the electoral law, there is no record of attacks on civilian vehicles that cross the country's main EN1 roadway.

However, Mozambique's Armed Defense Force (FADM) and Rapid Intervention Force (FIR) remain in the region and have created an unofficial "toll booth" system between the Save River and Muxúnguè, in Sofala province.

"We were coming from Maputo and when we got to the bridge over the Save River the escort was already gone. There were two cars, ours and of a group of Chinese citizens. They demanded 500 meticais and said that we could go without an escort. We left and when we found the second checkpoint, which is about 100 kilometers away, they demanded 500 meticais more," reports a citizen who, for his own economic livelihood, needs to frequently use this only crossroads between northern, central and southern Mozambique.

Verdade spoke with another citizen who passed through this stretch of roadway last week and lamented the environment that he saw and of the behavior of FIR and FADM agents. "It is regrettable. They're always drunk and with their weapons drawn."

Military is always drunk

Reports from several people who have gone through the Save-Muxúnguè stretch from both directions confirm that "a total anarchy reigns in that section. They don't even hide. They say 'give us the money in order to pass through or we'll burn your vehicles. It costs us nothing. Everything that goes wrong here can be attributed to armed bandits.' They drink with guns drawn and they point them out to people when they make these threats. In the event of an attack, how will they react if they are under the influence of alcohol?"

In relation to the envoys, our sources say that they no longer offer the same security as before. Now, with the attacks tapering off, government forces in the area have been reduced to less than half of their original number.

"I always drive that route and now there's only one armored vehicle that sits in front of civilians. The remaining elements of the Rapid Intervention Force don't even reach two dozen agents and they hide in trucks. The escort vehicle drives at a high speed and if something happens to your car you don't have any way to call for help."

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