Spies spooked with Renamo threat

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HARARE – African intelligence bosses fear that Mozambique’s opposition Renamo could morph into a fully-fledged terrorist outfit similar to Al Shabab in East Africa and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

They spoke as the Mozambican army captured another Renamo jungle camp in central Sofala province, tightening a military noose around Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama and his followers who are holed up in the nearby Gorongosa mountains.

Briefing journalists yesterday, director-generals from the continent’s intelligence arms said there was escalating fears of an outbreak of terrorism in the wake of the Renamo threat.

Isaac Moyo, the Ethiopia-based executive secretary of the Committee of the Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (Cissa), said there was need for the continent to nip terrorism in the bud.

“We as Cissa did recognise that Renamo should be managed in such a way that it doesn’t become a terrorist front,” Moyo said.

“We are assured by pronouncements from Mozambique and Zimbabwe that the situation could be contained before it degenerates into what we have seen in other parts of the continent.”

Happyton Bonyongwe, director-general of Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) said the country’s security apparatus was alive to the threat posed by Renamo.

He, however, said for now, it was something that the Mozambican government could resolve.

“The security forces are very much alert to the situation in Mozambique, as far as we are concerned,” Bonyongwe told a rare press briefing.

“It is something that is taking place in Mozambique and we believe the Mozambican government has the capacity to deal with the threat.”

Flanked by the continent’s top intelligence operatives, Bonyongwe, who assumed the post of chairperson of the continental intelligence sharing platform, Cissa, said the continent was already scaling up its war against terrorism.

The situation remains tense in Mozambique, where opposition and former rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama ended a 21-year-old truce with the ruling party Frelimo.

There are fears that mobilised Renamo forces, who have since retreated to the mountains fleeing government forces could mutate into a terrorist unit and trigger another civil war.

Zimbabwe, which is landlocked and relies on Mozambique to transport some of its vital imports, has already indicated that it is closely monitoring the situation in Mozambique, which is a crucial conduit in its transportation and importation of grain and other commodities.

For the past few years, African countries such as Nigeria and Somalia, have been blighted by an incessant threat of terror from groups like Boko Haram and Al Shabab, which have killed hundreds of civilians.

Recently, Al Shabab terrorists carried out a deadly attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya, killing scores of people and raising fears across African government that terrorism was fast spreading.

Cissa, which acts as an advisory body on intelligence, peace and security matters to the Africa Union Commission and specifically the Peace and Security Council of the continental body, was established in August 2004 in Abuja, Nigeria to close the existing void in the continental security architecture on intelligence matters.

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