Maputo — Mozambique's main opposition party, Renamo, on Thursday ordered its local delegations to cancel all planned meetings and rallies, in order to comply with social distancing measures to fight the spread of the respiratory disease Covid-19.
Speaking at a Maputo press conference, at which no questions were allowed, the party's leader, Ossufo Momade, said a decision had been taken earlier that morning at an extraordinary session of the Renamo National Political Commission to restrict the work done by party offices to a bare minimum.
Momade urged the Renamo groups in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, and in the provincial and municipal assemblies, to ensure that their participation is "as safe as possible".
"We urge all members and sympathisers, and the public at large to observe rigorously the measures to fight against and prevent the spread of Covid-19, and to disseminate the information among their communities", he added.
Renamo also urged the government to ban all international flights and to seal Mozambique's borders completely.
Several airlines - including South African Airways, Angolan Airlines (TAAG), Qatar Airways, and the Portuguese airline TAP - have already suspended flights to and from Mozambique. The foreign airlines that are still flying in and out of Maputo are Ethiopian Airways and Kenya Airways.
Mozambique has not shut any of its borders - but South Africa has shut three of the four Mozambique/South Africa border posts. The largest border post, at Ressano Garcia, remains open - but, because of the lockdown decreed by the South African government, as from Friday it will only be handling goods traffic.
Thursday was the last day for South Africans in Mozambique wishing to go home to cross the border, before the lockdown took effect.
In the other direction, many thousands of Mozambicans, including workers from the South African mines, queued at the border to go home. All of them were screened for the high temperature which is one of the first symptoms of Covid-19, and all should undertake 14 days of home quarantine.