Mozambique: Soldiers Occupy Forestry Complex, Attack Workers

Maputo – Members of the Mozambican armed forces (FADM) on Friday occupied a timber industry complex owned by the company Euromoz in the central province of Sofala, and physically assaulted workers they found there, according to a report in Monday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Mediafax”.

Some of the workers told the paper that military vehicles appeared on Friday morning at the premises of Euromoz, in Maringue district, and without any warning soldiers began to attack the eight workers present on the premises.

The workers were held captive briefly somewhere outside the complex, but were released later in the morning thanks to the intervention of the local secretary of the ruling Frelimo Party. But the soldiers released them on the illegal condition that they did not return to their workplace. The excuse for this action was that the workers had been providing food for gunmen of the rebel movement Renamo, an accusation which Euromoz denies.

The workers obeyed the soldiers and did not return to Euromoz, which meant that the complex, and all its machinery, including tractors, trailers, cranes, tools, plus a fuel deposit, was left completely abandoned for a period.

Euromoz was set up with Spanish investment and its chairperson, Ana Alonso, was in Spain when the soldiers occupied the premises.

She issued a statement describing the FADM occupation of the premises as unjust, because the Euromoz workers were not Renamo gunmen, and had not given supplies to Renamo.

Alonso named all the workers who had been attacked, and described them as “loyal, honest, absolutely innocent and legally contracted”.

“They were unjustly beaten by members of the armed forces when they were legally carrying out their duties”, she said.

Euromoz said that, immediately after the incident, it contacted the provincial authorities, the Spanish embassy, and central government bodies, in an attempt to guarantee the security of the company’s workers, premises and machinery.

Alonso thanked the national and provincial forestry authorities, and the Sofala Provincial Government for their prompt response, as well as the Maringue district administrator, who requested the speedy intervention of the police. The district police commander sent a unit to Euromoz to protect the buildings and the machinery.

Euromoz says its investment in Maringue amounts to about half a million US dollars. Alonso said that, since Euromoz was unjustly attacked by the army, the Mozambican state is responsible for paying for any losses the company may incur.

Source: Africa Focus