Maputo — The security situation is now "under control" in the districts of Mocimboa da Praia, Palma, Macomia and Nangade, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, Justice Minister Joaquim Verissimo assured the country's parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Wednesday.
He was answering a question from the parliamentary group of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), who wanted an explanation of the origins and motivations of the attacks in Cabo Delgado, which has been rocked by a low level islamist insurgency since October 2017.
But Verissimo did not touch upon the attackers' motivations, and did not so much as mention religion as a possible factor.
Instead, he painted a picture of a province where everything was returning to normal, where the institutions were functioning, and where it had been possible to hold municipal elections on 10 October (in Mocimboa da Praia).
The defence and security forces had detained a large number of people suspected of involvement in the attacks, Verissimo said, and 189 of them were currently on trial in the provincial capital, Pemba, charged with crimes including first degree murder, theft, conspiracy and membership of a criminal organisation.
He gave no description of the insurgents, merely calling them criminals. The violent acts they had committed, he said, justified the expansion of the police and military presence in the area, which had been strengthened in terms both of personnel and of equipment.
MDM deputy Jose Lobo said the Minister's brief statement still provided no explanation for the insurgency. He pointed out that the raiders "shout the name of Allah in their attacks". He suggested that "regional asymmetries" might play a role in motivating the insurgents, and claimed that the mineral resources in Cabo Delgado are not benefitting local residents.
His colleague Jose Manuel de Sousa asked why neither Defence Minister Atanasio M'tumuke nor Interior Minister Basilio Monteiro were present at the session.
"Who are the people supporting the attacks? Who is ordering them? Who is financing them?", asked Sousa. "We demand a better explanation".