Mozambique: Alleged Renamo Gunman Captured At Inchope

Maputo – The Mozambican police on Saturday captured a 20 year old gunman of the rebel movement Renamo at Inchope, in the central province of Manica.

The man, named Zacarias Manuel, told reporters he had been stationed at the Renamo base of Mangomonhe, near the small town of Muxungue, in the neighbouring province of Sofala. He said he had taken part in ten attacks against civilian vehicles on the stretch of the main north-south highway between the Save river and Muxungue.

Manuel said he was one of 50 young men, aged between 17 and 20, recently trained by Renamo. He added that the Mangomonhe base is commanded by a man he named only as Chibadura, and that instructions for operations are received from regulo (chief) Mangunde, who is the father of Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.

“Our leader commands us by telephone”, said Manuel. “We comply with his orders, transmitted to the commanders. They pass the information on to us and we obey”.

Sensationally, Manuel said that his group of 50 new recruits had been trained in Kenya. Although there were certainly links between Renamo and Kenya back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when Daniel Arap Moi was Kenyan President, until now there has never been any suggestion of a connection between Renamo and the present Kenyan government.

Manuel had been wounded in the leg, and said he had made his way to Inchope in search of medical treatment. He was now regretting joining Renamo, for the rebel movement had broken its promises to him. He said he had been promised a monthly salary of 6,000 meticais (about 125 US dollars, at current exchange rates), but this had never been paid.

If Manuel’s story is true, it is evidence that the current upsurge in Renamo violence is not merely the work of “residual forces”, left over from the Renamo war of the 1980s and early 1990s, but that Renamo, in violation of every agreement it has ever signed, has been recruiting a new army.

But there are good reasons for doubting large parts of Manuel’s story. First, Inchope is 150 kilometres from Muxungue. Would an injured man really walk that far in search of medical aid? If he was truly disillusioned with Renamo, it would have been much easier to go to the Muxungue Rural Hospital.

Secondly, there has never before been any suggestion that Dhlakama’s ageing father has been directly involved in transmitting military instructions.

As for the supposed Kenyan connection – this part of his story did not appear in all versions of the interview with Manuel. It was notably absent from the footage shown on Saturday evening by the independent television station STV.

Manuel’s story does not explain how his group was taken from Sofala to Kenya, nor whereabouts in Kenya they were trained and who they met there. There seems no reason why the government of Uhuru Kenyatta should offer military assistance to Renamo. Considerably more evidence is needed before that claim can be believed.

Source: Africa Focus