The Mozambican Defence Ministry says it has registered 220,211 people for military service during the registration period which ran from Jan 2 to Feb 28.

The Ministry proclaims this as a victory, because the registration target was only 170,000. However, as has happened every year since conscription was re-introduced in 1997, the majority of young Mozambicans did not register.

Under Mozambican law, all Mozambicans should register for military service in the year of their 18th birthday. Thanks to the projections from the 2007 population census, it is known that this year, 565,000 Mozambicans will celebrate their 18th birthday.

Thus, only 39 per cent of those who should have registered did so, and the target was a mere 30 per cent. The figures are even worse, when one considers that all those who failed to register in previous years (provided they are less than 35 years old) should have taken the opportunity to register this time.

Speaking at a media briefing here Monday, the Director of Human Resources in the Defence Ministry, Edgar Cossa, said the overall result was a one per cent improvement on last year’s figure. He added that 71,890 of those who registered are women.