Maputo — Hundreds of Mozambican citizens took to the streets of Maputo on Saturday in protest against the wave of anti-foreigner violence in South Africa - but the police, reneging on an earlier commitment, refused to allow the marchers to reach the South African High Commission.
The march organisers, from various civil society organisations, say the route of the march had been agreed beforehand with the authorities, including Maputo Municipal Council. The marchers were to set off from Independence Square, in front of Maputo City Hall, walk along several central Maputo avenues until they reached the High Commission, where messages were to be read condemning the xenophobic violence.
But when the marchers were ready to set off, the police informed the organisers that they had unilaterally changed the route. The police wanted the protesters to march in the opposite direction, to the statue of Eduardo Mondlane in the neighbourhood of Alto Mae, a long way from the High Commission.
After discussions among the marchers, they decided to defy the police and set off along the originally agreed route. But when they reached a crossroads they found their path barred by a strong police contingent.
The marchers protested loudly, but in the end they had little choice but to accept the route imposed by the police.
One of the organisers, David Fabio, chairperson of the Youth Parliament, accused the government of a lack of sensitivity towards the suffering of Mozambicans resident in South Africa. He could find no explanation for the police aborting a peaceful march which was carrying a clear message repudiating violence.
Fabio said that, although the marchers could not achieve their main goal, actions in protest against the way foreigners are treated in South Africa would continue until the Mozambican government took a firm position on the matter.
"We only wanted to transmit our indignation towards the situation our brothers are experiencing in South Africa, but we find that the police bar our path and divert us from our route", said Fabio.
"Although the media report a reduction in the violence, we are receiving information from South Africa that in some provinces and neighbourhoods, our brothers are continuing to die", he added. "We are not going to stop, we shall continue to repudiate the violence".