Maputo — Xaia-Xai (Mozambique), 9 Oct (AIM) - The Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), the country's second largest opposition party, has complained that the police and the courts are not providing it with any protection in Xai-Xai, capital of the southern province of Gaza.
The MDM Xai-Xai district delegate, Aquerdino Mavie, told AIM that the lack of protection has led to repeated destruction of its election propaganda, and attacks on its Xai-Xai office, including the "cyclical removal" of the MDM flag from its mast.
These situations had been reported to the police and one case even made it to court, but the lack of any satisfactory outcome led Mavie to ask "are we really in a democratic state, or are we in a state where a dictatorial regime reigns?"
A flagrant case was when an MDM flyposting group, was interrupted by a group wearing T-shirts of the ruling Frelimo Party. One of the youths got out of their car and announced he was going to tear down the MDM posters.
"We said 'don't do that!'", said Mavie. "He insisted and asked 'what are you going to do about it?'"
He tore the posters down, and so the MDM group made a citizens' arrest, and took the Frelimo supporter to the police station. They told the police they had caught the youth in the act of committing a crime.
At first "the police didn't want to arrest him", said Mavie. "They said there were no conditions to hold him in the station. But, after our pressure, they promised they would detain him. But we're not sure whether that happened".
The case did come to trial - but the judge released the youth even though he had been caught red-handed. "There we understood that, if you are from the ruling party, you are immune to any kind of sanction imposed by the law", said Mavie.
The police are supposed to protect the competing parties during an election campaign, and initially policemen were stationed outside the MDM Xai-Xai office, particularly at night. But a few days later, that protection was removed.
"When we phoned the head of operations of the Xai-Xai third precinct, he said they didn't have enough men, and advised us a hire a security guard", said Mavie.
When AIM spoke to the commander of the third precinct, he said that all election parades and motorcades of all parties, including the MDM have the right to protection, if they inform the police in good time.
But if the MDM wanted special protection for its office "they should write to the provincial police command, and we shall act in accordance with the instructions we receive", he said.