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Guerrillas from Renamo, Mozambique’s main opposition party, who voluntarily surrendered their weapons in the framework of the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) process, have expressed satisfaction with their expectation of a return to civilian life.
The DDR, which is the result of understandings between the Mozambican government and the Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo), started on Monday in the Gorongosa mountain range in central Sofala province.
Abílio Tenisse, who has the rank of captain, handed over the AK-47 that accompanied him through years of guerrilla service with Renamo at a cantonment centre in the Gorongosa mountain range and now wants to return to his home province of central Zambezia to set up a business and earn a living for his family.
“If I have money, I will buy a mill to grind corn and help people in my part of Zambezia,” Tenisse told the group of journalists who witnessed the start of DDR in Sandjudjira.
Having fought for Renamo in the 16-year war that ended in 1992 and re-joined the guerrilla in 2012 for the ensuing wave of military violence, Tenisse says he is fed up with living in the bush.
“I have waited a long time for this, and I appeal to others to join us to be demobilised,” he said.
Elias Sande, also a captain, has voluntarily handed his weapon to international military experts running DDR in Gorongosa and said he intends to remake his life, which has stalled during the guerrilla years.
“One of the things I’m going to do is buy a mill in order to get some income,” said Sande – a popular line of work in central Mozambique.
Corn flour, ground in machines that work on electricity from either the grid or a generator, is one of the most successful businesses in central Mozambique due to strong demand for a staple product widely consumed in the region.
The only woman who handed over a gun on the first day of DDR, Elina Matavote, of Renamo’s so-called female detachment, did not disguise her satisfaction at the prospect of re-joining her family in Nhamatanda district, Sofala province, after long years in the bush.
“I don’t know how long I was in the bush, but now that I have the opportunity to return home, I want to enjoy life with the family,” she said.
Many Renamo guerrillas in the bush also want to return to civilian life, Matove said.
The beginning of the DDR process was symbolically marked by the voluntary surrender of arms by four Renamo guerrillas and the registration of another 46 for later disarmament.