Maputo, 28 Sept (AIM) – The Mozambican government has no intention either of forcibly disarming the former rebel movement Renamo, or of assassinating its leader, Afonso Dhlakama, according to the Defence Minister, Atanasio M’tumuke.
Interviewed in the latest issue of the independent weekly “Savana”, M’tumuke pointed out that if the defence and security forces wanted to assassinate Dhlakama, “they could have done so a long time ago”.
But the defence and security forces “do not exist to assassinate people”, he stressed. “They exist to guarantee order, security and the defence of sovereignty”.
As for Renamo’s illegal militia, M’tumuke declared that the government “has no need to disarm Renamo and its leader forcibly. Nature will take care of seeing that justice is done. Age will determine everything”.
M’tumuke was referring to the advanced age of the Renamo militiamen. They are referred to as “residual forces” from a war that ended in 1992. Those who fought in the war of destabilization must now, 23 years later, be in their 40s, 50s or older.
The idea that the Renamo militia will fade away out of old age assumes that Renamo is not undertaking any new recruitment. But M’tumuke himself admitted that some of the bodyguards accompanying Dhlakama nowadays look no more than 25 years old.
Asked where these apparently young bodyguards came from, M’tumuke told the journalist he ought to ask Dhlakama that question.
M’tumuke did not believe that the barracks Dhlakama said Renamo was building in Morrumbala district, in the central province of Zambezia, posed a threat, and cast doubt as to whether the barracks even existed.
“We’re not worried”, said M’tumuke. “That man (Dhlakama), when he opens his mouth, says things that never happen. He just speaks to please his bosses”.
M’tumuke admitted that some members of the Mozambican armed forces (FADM) commit abuses and beat up civilians, but he guaranteed that the Defence Ministry takes stern measures against soldiers caught committing such crimes.
“Generally, they beat people up when they’re drunk”, he said. “Some have been severely punished, and others have been expelled. I have just signed five dispatches expelling people from the armed forces for such behaviour. Measures are being taken, and we want an image that brings dignity to the FADM”.