Blantyre - Mozambique’s rebel group – the National Resistance Movement (Renamo) – has intensified its attacks on vehicles plying on the main highways of the country.
The group which at first was mainly targeting police units and state facilities is now attacking foreigners and foreign vehicles that use Mozambican routes.
Malawi’s ministry of foreign affairs bemoaned that the war in Mozambique is now affecting the transportation of the country’s imports and exports.
“It is sad that Malawian vehicles are being set ablaze in Mozambique. We will liaise with our counterparts in Mozambique on the situation,” said spokesperson for Malawi’s ministry of foreign affairs, Rejoice Shumba.
The admission on the impact of the war comes after several Malawians have been killed in Mozambique while on Wednesday suspected Renamo militias set ablaze six vehicles including a tanker that was transporting fuel from the port of Beira to Malawi’s commercial city of Blantyre.
“Some of the burnt vehicles had Mozambican and Zimbabwean registration numbers,” said the driver of the truck whose life was spared after his tanker was set on fire.
Malawi’s Petroleum Importers Limited general manager Enwell Kadango confirmed in an interview that their tanker was indeed attacked and set on fire at Venduzi in Mozambique.
“The attack on our tanker is a huge setback for us because we have lost millions of Kwachas. We are liaising with the government of Malawi if they can help us in tightening security so that we can have an escort of army or police on the route,” he said.
According to Kadango, between 20 and 50 Malawian tankers pass through Mozambican routes on daily basis hence the need for military escorts.
At the height of Mozambican civil war fought between 1975 and 1992 which claimed over a million lives, Malawi deployed its troops to Mozambique who were guarding rail-lines and roads that were used for the country’s exports and imports.
Meanwhile the economic impact of the ambushes by Renamo militias against trucks on major roads is being felt in western Mozambique’s commercial city of Tete where commodity scarcity is pushing up prices.
Tete Provincial Director of industry and trade, Joao Feliciano, told reporters recently that prices of basic food are rising because most suppliers are reluctant to transport the goods fearing the attacks.
Renamo militias have frequently been targeting the road from the port of Beira to Tete, through the city of Chimoio, which Malawi also uses to transport its goods.
Feliciano bemoaned: “Many companies are failing to transport huge amounts to Tete because they do not want to lose everything on the way,” he said.
Some analysts have warned that if the skirmishes continue, foreign companies which have invested in Mozambique might be affected.
A number of companies from neighbouring South Africa have invested in Mozambique and they include Vodacom, First National Bank (FNB), oil giant, Sasol, Engen, Standard Bank, Shoprite and African Rainbow Minerals.
The current fighting borders on misunderstanding between Renamo leader, Afonso Dhlakama and Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on power-sharing deal.
Renamo wants to be governing in the provinces where it won elections but the government has on several occasions shot down the proposal, prompting Renamo to resort to military violence.
The outcome of the impasse has been the breaking out of attacks in many parts of the country.