Mozambican troops guard cargo convoys as Renamo attacks escalate

Blantyre - Following an upsurge in attacks on foreign cargo trucks by National Resistance Movement (Renamo) rebels, Mozambique has deployed its military to escort convoys of vehicles passing through militia-held areas.

Malawi’s ministry of foreign affairs disclosed that the move came after the rebels attacked and set alight several trucks, including fuel tankers last week.

“Mozambique agreed to our proposal that our trucks which transport Malawi’s exports and imports should be guarded by the military. It is the Mozambican troops providing security,” said Malawian foreign affairs ministry spokesperson Rejoice Shumba.

According to Shumba, five Malawian vehicles – three tankers and two private cargo trucks – were set alight in Mozambique last week.

It was not only Malawian trucks which were targeted along the 270km stretch of Mozambique National Road 7, but also vehicles from other countries.

The road links the seaport of Beira to Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Renewed clashe s

A total of 12 cargo trucks were ambushed and set ablaze, while two drivers were killed in separate attacks last week.

The rebels had also started targeting railways, with two trains shot at in the Mozambican northwestern province of Tete.

Renamo was attacking civilian vehicles on the pretext that they were being used for military logistics, but the government said the ambushes were aimed at destabilising the transport network.

The renewed clashes between government forces and Renamo rebels date back to 2014 when ruling Frelimo candidate Filipe Nyusi won the presidency in an election which opposition Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama claimed was rigged.

The opposition proposed the formation of a unity government, a proposal which Mozambican authorities rejected.

Following the rejection of the proposal, Renamo pressed for political autonomy of central and northern provinces of Sofala, Manica, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa, where the party received the majority of presidential votes, but the government shot down that proposal.

Renamo responded by pulling out of dialogue with the government and started to set up some military bases.

Currently, insecurity is not the only issue haunting the administration of President Filipe Nyusi.

Twin challenges

The state of insecurity was compounded by another challenge on the economic front: an impending major sovereign debt default.

Just a decade after international creditors forgave the nation more than $6bn debt as part of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, Mozambique is once again at huge risk of falling back into a debt trap.

In April, the government confessed that it was hiding some debt of over $1bn, a move that rattled the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which was assisting the country to repay another debt of $850m.

The IMF immediately suspended the second instalment of a $282m loan to the country and other donors followed suit by freezing their budgetary support to Mozambique.



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