Maputo — Despite Sunday night's arson attack against the Maputo offices of the independent weekly "Canal de Mocambique", the paper's staff were back at work on Monday, improvising a newsroom under a tent on the pavement in front of the ruined offices.
The Executive Editor of "Canal de Mocambique", Matias Guente, is determined that this week's edition of the paper will appear, as scheduled, on Wednesday. In this he has been assisted by the solidarity of other journalists and media companies, notably Mediacoop, the oldest independent media company in the country.
Mediacoop has offered to host "Canal de Mocambique" while it is recovering from the attack. According to the chairperson of the Mediacoop board, Fernando Lima, Guente and his team can use the Mediacoop premises and equipment for as long as necessary.
The general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (SNJ), Eduardo Constantino, has also offered space at the SNJ headquarters for "Canal de Mocambique".
"We want the authors of the crime identified, put on trial and ordered to compensate 'Canal de Mocambique' for the losses caused", said Constantino.
Among the many messages of solidarity sent to "Canal de Mocambique" was one from President Filipe Nyusi, who vehemently condemned the attack.
In the message, published on the President's Facebook page, Nyusi said "Freedom of the press is a pillar of democracy and a gain of Mozambicans which must be protected". He added that he has instructed the authorities to investigate the crime and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Although "Canal de Mocambique" is highly critical of the Mozambican government, and of Nyusi himself, last year Nyusi gave a rare full length interview to the paper.
All three political parties represented in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, have strongly condemned the attack. Caifadine Manasse, the spokesperson of the ruling Frelimo Party told Radio Mozambique "We repudiate all type of violence. We are surprised by this macabre and heinous attitude".
Firebombing the newsroom of "Canal de Mocambique" is "an attack against the consolidation of a democratic state", he said. "So Frelimo is in solidarity with the country's journalists and particularly with 'Canal de Mocambique'".
Ossufo Momade, the leader of the main opposition party, Renamo, said the attack represented "a serious injury to democracy and to the rule of law". He added "the authors of this crime must not remain unpunished, as usual".
Lutero Simango, head of the parliamentary group of the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), described the arson as "an act of terrorism against press freedom". Those behind the attack, he added, "don't want a free press which tells the truth to the people".
The Emergency Committee for the Protection of Freedoms (CEPL), a group of journalists and activists set up to defend freedom of expression, urged the authorities to investigate and clear up the crime as soon as possible.
CEPL activist Fatima Mimbire told reporters that the authorities should cease all harassment and intimidation against the media. Security is the task of the state, she added, and it is not reasonable that "faceless crimes" such as the attack against "Canal de Mocambique" should continue occurring.
The spokesperson for the Maputo City Police Command. Minoria Petissone, assured journalists that the police are working to clear up the crime. It had requested that a technical team visit the ruined offices to ascertain the causes of the fire.
But she confirmed that a jerry can had been found in the office "which is not part of the paper's usual equipment".