Aurelio Capece Mudiu contemplates the mountains of Gorongosa (center), historic stronghold of Renamo fighters, his eyes wet and his face weathered by 40 years “up there”, in the bases of the rebellion.

“It’s difficult to live alone, a person who has nothing, without his family, far away…”, confides the combatant demobilized within the framework of the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process launched by the government there. two years ago.

Mozambique went through a civil war that lasted fifteen years after the departure of the Portuguese settler in 1975. The conflict between Renamo, supported by apartheid South Africa and neighboring white-dominated Rhodesia as well as by the United States , and the party in power still today, Frelimo, supported by the Soviets in a context of the Cold War, caused nearly a million deaths.

After a peace agreement in 1992, Renamo became a political party but never won a national election. In 2013, the rebels took up arms again, until a new agreement in 2019.

Today, at the foot of the mountains, the carcasses of burnt pickups are eaten by tall grass, like vestiges of another time. Most of the rebels are no longer fit to fight, the average age is 55 years old.

Along the tracks, the red flag of Frelimo and the tricolor of Renamo are still fighting over the village squares but the hypothesis of new clashes has been definitively ruled out.

“There is no one in Renamo who does not want peace,” Renamo MP Antonio Muchanga told AFP.

The violence is now raging elsewhere, a thousand km to the north. The province of Cabo Delgado has been ravaged since 2017 by jihadist attacks.

– Hunting weapons –

According to official data, 63% of Renamo fighters have surrendered and most rebel bases are closed. But according to a humanitarian source, “the fighters mainly returned old hunting weapons”. And rebels are still camped in the mountains.

“Some had children and died here without having had time to see them again. I want to tell the others, who are still up there, to join us”, notes Aurelio, in a hoarse voice.

Each demobilized combatant received assistance equivalent to $2,000 for reintegration. Like most of them, Aurelio quickly spent his savings and now awaits the payment of a pension, promised in the peace agreement.

“If the government gives me money, I will do my best to help my family, build a house (…) But the government still hasn’t given us anything. The aid has run out and we are waiting at home, nothing,” he complains.

According to Zenaida Machado, of the NGO Human Rights Watch, aid is not enough. “You also have to provide them with the tools to integrate into communities and enable them to be self-sufficient.”

A text must be voted by the end of the year but the problem is financial, according to Mirko Manzoni, representative of the United Nations in Mozambique who participated in the development of the last peace agreement.

“The Mozambican State has a limited budget and enormous needs. It also weighs a constant mortgage, the pensions of the combatants, which represent 300 million euros per year out of a budget of six billion” he explains, recalling that “the majority of Mozambicans do not have a pension”.