Maputo — Mozambique’s Minister of the Interior, Basilio Monteiro, has denied that the former rebel movement Renamo is recruiting young Mozambicans into the ranks of its illegal militia.
Speaking on Tuesday in the central city of Quelimane, and cited by the electronic paper “Diario de Zambezia”, Monteiro said talk of such recruitment was just “speculation by people of bad faith” who were trying to disturb public order and tranquillity.
“There is no recruitment by Renamo”, the Minister claimed, “the only force carrying out official recruitment is the Mozambican state, which is why registration for military service is taking place right now”.
Nonetheless, Monteiro warned that people should remain vigilant to ensure that illicit recruitment does not take place. Last weekend, he told Radio Mozambique that the government was checking the reports that Renamo is recruiting young people for military training somewhere in Sofala province.
For Renamo, its national spokesperson, Antonio Muchanga, also denied the reports. Cited in Wednesday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, Muchanga said “It’s a lie. Renamo isn’t recruiting anyone. We don’t need to”.
But he immediately contradicted himself by claiming that “in various parts of the country, Renamo is receiving its former guerrillas who were outside its bases, as well as deserters from the Mozambican armed forces (FADM)”.
Putting army deserters and demobilized fighters into the Renamo militia is a form of recruitment, and it is every bit as illegal as recruiting raw youngsters would be.
Meanwhile, the Renamo militia is reported to have murdered a traditional chief in the Sofala district of Gorongosa. According to the Gorongosa district administrator, Manuel Jamaca, the chief of Muuzuwangume village was shot dead at about 01.00 on Tuesday morning by three Renamo members armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and two pistols.
Jamaca told reporters that, when the Renamo men knocked on the door, the chief’s wife “woke up and went to open the door to find out who the visitors were. The three men shoved her aside violently, so that they could enter the house. The chief got up and tried to react. They shot him in the chest. Without any assistance, he died on the spot”.