Maputo — Armed men burnt down the home of Ines Alculete, mother of the mayor of the central Mozambican city of Quelimane, Manuel de Araujo, at about 01.00 on Monday morning.
Araujo is also the candidate for governor of Zambezia province for the main opposition party, Renamo, in the general and provincial elections scheduled for 15 October.
Speaking to the "Voice of America" radio station from Milange district, where he has been campaigning alongside the Renamo leader and presidential candidate, Ossufo Momade,
Araujo said "They burnt down my mother's house. Until there is proof to the contrary, this has all the marks of being carried out by members of the Frelimo Party".
Araujo appealed to President Filipe Nyusi to guarantee implementation of the peace and reconciliation agreement he had signed with Momade in Maputo on 6 August.
Antonio Zefanias, the director of Araujo's campaign, said "For us this is an act of intimidation to destabilise the strength of the head of our list (i.e. Araujo)"
The attacking group tied up and gagged the security guard at Alculete's house, but not before they had forced him to show them the window of Alculete's bedroom. They left behind two 20 litre containers which had held the petrol they used to set the house on fire.
According to a neighbour who rescued the guard, there were five men in the group, wearing
masks and carrying AK-47 assault rifles, pistols and machetes. The guard said he heard the men say they intended to kill Alculete.
The group made no attempt to steal anything from the house, which is located in Coalane, a densely populated neighbourhood of Quelimane. Alculete was not at home when the house was attacked. Four other people were sleeping in the house, but managed to escape unharmed.
Zefanias said the Quelimane police came to the house for an initial investigation, and promised that more work would be done by the National Criminal Investigation Service.
A press release issued by Renamo in the wake of the attack accused Frelimo and Nyusi of responsibility "because so far they have not distanced themselves, by means of a public and unequivocal condemnation, from the acts of violence perpetrated by members of their party, not only in Zambezia, but in other parts of the country".
The attack, Renamo added was "a flagrant violation of the spirit and the letter" of the peace agreements between the government and Renamo, and the various international human rights declarations of which Mozambique is a signatory.
Renamo demanded action from the police and the justice authorities to apprehend those responsible and bring them to trial.
"Because we believe in divine grace, we are aware that one day justice will be done, on earth or in heaven", said the release, before appealing for Zambezia residents, the electoral bodies, and the international community "to take vigorous action and condemn the use of violence for electoral purposes".
Araujo is certainly a popular figure in Quelimane. He has been elected mayor of the city three times - at a mayoral by-election in 2011, and in the nationwide municipal elections of 2013 and 2018.
He has also made a habit of changing his political party. He was elected to the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on the Renamo ticket in 2004. But he abandoned Renamo and joined the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) when it was set up in 2009.
It was as the MDM candidate that he won his mayoral campaigns in 2011 and 2013. But in 2018, even though the MDM had planned to run him for a further term of office in Quelimane, he returned to Renamo, heading the Renamo list for the Quelimane municipal assembly.