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Mozambican Defence Minister Cristovao Chume on Wednesday challenged officials in his Ministry to devise strategies that will make a military career attractive to young people, so that the armed forces (FADM) will depend less on conscripts and more on volunteers.
He was speaking in Maputo at a ceremony where 12 senior Defence Ministry staff took office in sectors such as national defence policy, human resources, and the reservists’ command.
The major challenge facing the sector, said Chume, was the management of human resources, He urged the new national director of human resources, Jorge Delfim Leonel, to remember that “people are the main asset that the military institution has”.
“It is in men and women that we must invest most”, said the Minister. “Tell us how we can make the sector more attractive to young people, particularly how we can make careers in the Defence Ministry more attractive to brilliant cadres. My dream is to see young people who go to the limit when challenged”.
He urged Leonel to create conditions to overcome the chronic problem of corruption in the Provincial Mobilisation and Recruitment Centres. Corruption in military recruitment could not be tolerated. “We are public servants, and we must serve our people without illicit charges, and without corrupt schemes”, said Chume.
Turning to the new director of national defence policy, Brig Anastacio Barassa, Chume urged him to surround himself with “brilliant and dedicated minds, who think outside the box”.
“Don’t feel obliged to keep on individuals who don’t fit into the teams or into the profile of the mission you are receiving today”, he added.
The strategic environment for the activities of the defence and security forces has changed considerably over the past five years, said Chume, particularly with the eruption of terrorism in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, as from October 2017. He urged Barassa to seize opportunities to train the defence forces in the most demanding areas, and not in areas which add little value to the military
Chume wanted “improved performance in the area of bilateral cooperation”, notably through “strategic partnerships which add more opportunities and capacities for forming strategists in the area of national defence”.
The Minister demanded the maximization of “strategic alliances which put the Mozambican defence forces on the most robust international front in the fight against the scourge of terrorism, without neglecting the agreements already reached with the countries of the SADC region, Rwanda and the European Union”.
Chume said that the military situation on the ground is improving in Cabo Delgado, and in the neighbouring province of Niassa, but the defence and security forces must aim for a situation “in which there are zero incidents related to terrorism”.
He warned “it will still take us some time to achieve total peace in Cabo Delgado”.
With the recovery of areas that had once been in terrorist hands, the government would ensure conditions for the displaced people to return to their homes. “We can guarantee that the national defence forces, the SADC Stand-by Force, and the Rwandan armed forces are doing everything so that we can throw terrorism out of Mozambican territory. The goal is to ensure the return of normal life in the areas that have been recovered”.
But people should not try to return to their home areas, until it was safe to do so. “So let’s listen to the message from the defence and security forces”, said Chume. “When they say there are not yet conditions for the displaced to return, let us comply with that”.
Some of those displaced had been able to return to Palma district, but in the neighbouring district of Mocimboa da Praia “there is still work to be done to ensure conditions for people to return”, said the Minister.
Watch the TVM report.