Maputo — The Mozambican police on Sunday raided the headquarters of the rebel movement Renamo, and two houses in Maputo belonging to Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, where they seized a total of 47 guns - 40 AK-47 assault rifles, and seven pistols.
Some of the rifles seized were coated with rust and were clearly quite useless. But, according to a report of the independent television station STV, 12 of the AK-47s and all of the pistols were in working order.
The police said that one of the AK-47s had been fired less than a month ago - a finding which supports police fears that Renamo guns are used for violent crime in the capital.
The police raids also discovered obsolete communications equipment, and several uniforms, some of them belonging to the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM). But the Maputo city police commander, Bernardino Rafael, stressed to reporters that the main purpose of the police raids was to collect illicit weapons.
“We took note of information that in those places guns were going in and out, and so we undertook work which culminated in an operation to seize those guns”, said Rafael. “That confirmed that our information was accurate”.
Rafael said that no arrests were made, but four Renamo guards were notified, and must attend a police station to make statements.
Dhlakama's son, Afonso Junior, was in one of the houses when it was raided. Contradicting the police claims, he wrote on his Facebook page that his five guards had been detained. He claimed there were 25 police involved in the raid, and “they broke into our warehouse of weapons”.
His post brimmed with rage and indignation, as if it were perfectly normal for a residence in central Maputo to contain a “warehouse of weapons”.
“Now I hate Frelimo”, he declared - making the usual Renamo conflation of the ruling party with the Mozambican state. He said “I could not order my soldiers to open fire, because there were children present”.
He predicted that the police raids would be censored, and would not appear in any of the Mozambican press. In fact, it was STV's lead story on Sunday night, and occupied a prominent position in Monday's newspapers.
A former Renamo general secretary, Ossufo Momade, and the head of the Renamo parliamentary group, Ivone Soares, showed journalists round the three premises. The police had smashed doors open and rifled through drawers in the office and in the two houses. Momade claimed they had stolen cash and a laptop computer from the office.
He described the police operation as “an invasion”, and promised that Dhlakama himself, currently living in a hideout in the central district of Gorongosa, would “respond politically”.
Momade also made the usual Renamo claim that it is allowed to keep guns under the terms of the 1992 peace agreement. In fact, the agreement allowed Renamo to have its own force, equivalent to the police, protecting its top leaders, but only as a transitional arrangement, between the ceasefire and the first elections (held in October 1994).
This clause in the agreement thus expired over two decades ago. Nothing in the agreement allows Renamo, or any other party, to establish its own militia and its own arms caches.