Maputo (AIM) – Gunmen of the rebel movement Renamo have forced trucks carrying maize from northern Mozambique to the drought stricken south to turn back, according to a report in Friday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”.
Drivers of four freightliner trucks said the Renamo gunmen had stopped the trucks in the Muxungue area in the central province of Sofala. They threatened to kill the drivers unless they turned round and drove the trucks back to the northern city of Nampula.
“They didn’t mistreat us”, one of the drivers said. “They just gave us orders to go back, and urged us to accept the order, if we wanted to go home alive”.
“They asked what we were carrying, and we told them it was maize”, he added. “Then they told us that maize was also needed in the north and centre of the country. So we should go back and sell the maize to people in the north”.
“Mediafax” found the trucks parked on the outskirts of Nampula, at the largest wholesale market in northern Mozambique. The maize they contained was being sold cheaply. Previously, the price of a 20 litre tin of maize had been 500 meticais (about ten US dollars). But with the return of the trucks banned from going to the south, the price dropped to 300 meticais a tin, much to the delight of Nampula residents.
“Mediafax” suggests that the owners are selling the maize cheaply for fear that it might go rotten if they do not get rid if it quickly,
The paper did not say who owns the four trucks, merely that the owners will not talk about the situation, for fear of reprisals from the government.
Meanwhile Renamo attacks on the main north-south highway (EN1) have spread to Zambezia province. A report in Thursday’s issue of the electronic paper “Diario da Zambezia”, published in the provincial capital, Quelimane, reported on a clash between Renamo gunmen and government forces at Murothone, in Mocuba district. The paper said that journalists travelling from Quelimane to Alto Molucue, in Upper Zambezia, had to turn round.
A journalist from the German broadcaster DW reported that on Wednesday the bas he was travelling in, belonging to the private company Nagi Investments, came under fire between Muxungue and the Save river, a 100 kilometre stretch of EN1 where traffic moves in conveys under armed escort.
Two people suffered bullet wounds in the Renamo ambush, but no-one was killed. The defence forces with the convoy drove the attackers into the bush, but 10 kilometres later there was a further burst of gunfire against the convoy.