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Photo: Sala da Paz
Methodist bishop Dinis Matsolo, one of Mozambique’s most prominent churchmen declared on Wednesday “we pray to God to rescue us from this spirit of tyranny that reigns in Gaza”.
Matsolo was speaking on behalf of the Christian Council of Mozambique at the funeral in the Gaza provincial capital, Xai-Xai, of Anastacio Matavel, the civil society and election observation activist who was gunned down by a death squad, formed mostly by policemen, on Monday.
“We need to know how to value life, even in the midst of death”, said Matsolo. “We need to value his (Matavel’s) teachings and the values he left us”.
“We must carry forward the mission begun by brother Matavel”, he said, in a speech published by the Sala da Paz election observation coalition, on its Facebook page. “We pray to God to give us courage, so that we can build bridges that connect people, and not walls that separate them”.
“In Gaza the challenges are enormous”, the Bishop continued. “We cannot think that with this loss, we have lost the battle. God is for justice”.
The Mayor of Xai-Xai, Emidio Xavier, said he felt “profound revulsion at the macabre act which took the life of one of the best citizens of Xai-Xai”, and demanded that the authorities explain the motives for “this unprecedented crime”.
Matavel’s work “was always centred on justice and on doing good”, the mayor added. “It’s difficult to regard him as a target to be shot down”.
“We ask God to return our city to tranquillity”, said Xavier. “We don’t want to live with bandits, and particularly not with bandits who wear the emblems of the State”.
Xavier also revealed that Matavel had once been a member of the Central Committee of the ruling Frelimo Party.
AIM confirmed this with the Frelimo Secretary for Communication and Image, Caifardine Manasse, who said Matavel had been on the Central Committee about ten years ago. As far as Manasse knew, Matavel was still a member of Frelimo at the time of his death. “He never renounced his membership”, he told AIM.
A funeral message from the Forum of Gaza NGOs (FONGA), of which Matavel had been executive director, said the murdered man had been motivated “solely by the spirit of serving and defending the interests of the poorest members of society”.
Because he defended the poor “he faced obstacles and had enemies”, FONGA said. “But he always stood firm, and always defended justice and truth”.
“Those who thought that by killing Matavel they would kill his cause were mistaken”, the message continued. “His death shakes us, but it will not make us stop”.
The message from Sala da Paz itself said that Matavel “was not doing anything wrong. He merely believed in a country where the values of peace, justice and democracy are cultivated”.
“The State must perform its role of protecting citizens, and should explain to his family, to his colleagues in civil society and to the world why people are dying in Mozambique because they defend noble values”, the message concluded.
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