Maputo — Gunmen of Mozambique's former rebel movement Renamo on Thursday morning attacked vehicles using the main north-south highway for the fourth consecutive day.
As in the week's previous attacks, Renamo hit the first convoy, setting out under military escort, from the small town of Muxungue, in the central province of Sofala, to the Save river. But this time, according to the report on the independent television station STV, nobody was killed or injured in the ambush.
The repeated attacks are having a serious impact on the lives of people attempting to travel between Beira and Maputo. As soon as they hear shooting on the road, buses towards the back of the morning convoys tend to turn round and head back to Muxungue.
STV found that many passengers had been stranded in Muxungue for days, running out of money and food, and with nowhere to sleep except inside the buses.
Many of the passengers are women traders who begged the government and Renamo to reach an agreement. “I can't believe this is happening in our Mozambique”, declared Iolanda Armando, one of the travelers held up in Muxungue. “It's like things that are happening far away. Just to travel 500 kilometres is taking us two or three days. This is no good!”
Truck drivers interviewed by STV were resigned to continuing to use the Muxungue-Save road. They said they have no alternative.
Defence Minister Agostinho Mondlane, interviewed by the Maputo daily “Noticias”, declared that the defence and security forces will continue to protect the public against Renamo attacks.
He denied the frequent claims by Renamo spokesmen that the armed forces (FADM) have been attacked Renamo positions with the intention of killing Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, and finishing the movement off militarily.
“The truth is what we can all see in broad daylight: it is Renamo which is carrying out the attacks”, said Mondlane. “At no time have the armed forces taken the initiative to attack any position of Renamo. Renamo promised to carry out attacks, and that is what it is doing”.
He lamented that Renamo is abandoning military action in favour of military action. “They say they want peace, but their actions contradict what they tell everybody”, said the Minister.
He pointed out that when Dhlakama said he wanted to register as a voter, he was able to do so (on 8 May) and nothing happened to him “precisely because it is not the government's intention to create any type of complication for him and his organisation”.
“It is Renamo that took the initiative to set itself up where it is and to attack civilian and military targets”, the Minister said.