The destruction of Fralimo bases in Zambia and Tanzania which border on Mozambique would be of considerable benefit to the Portuguese Army because, according to the new Portuguese Army Chief-of-Staff in Mozambique, the bases not only provide a safe refuge but a training ground for the guerrillas and their recruits.
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MV Goods train passing through Vila Pery
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Background: The destruction of Fralimo bases in Zambia and Tanzania which border on Mozambique would be of considerable benefit to the Portuguese Army because, according to the new Portuguese Army Chief-of-Staff in Mozambique, the bases not only provide a safe refuge but a training ground for the guerrillas and their recruits. However, the Chief-of-Staff, General Basto Machado, added that the bases had not been destroyed "because of our policy of good neighbourliness which has stopped us attacking on enemy ground."
General Basto Machado made these comments about the nationalist Frelimo movement in an exclusive interview with Visnews reporter William Mutschmann or Monday (29 March). When asked about the extent of Frelimo activity in Mozambique the General said that as far as he could gather, guerrilla activity had not penetrated south of a line running from Umtale to Beira. He added that the 1973 Frelimo target of reaching the Save river to the south had failed, despite claims by the black nationalists to the contrary.
The Portuguese Army says it has learned that the Frelimo are getting better training in their Tanzanian and Zambian camps, with Chinese assistance, especiall in the field of sabotage. However, the General noted that the quality of equipment used by the guerrillas had not improved recently.
The claim by Frelimo to have the support of a large section of the Mozambique population was also challenged by General Basto Machado. He asserted that a good deal of the villagers the Frelimo kidnap escape from guerrilla camps in the bush as soon as they can, and present themselves to Portuguese authorities asking to be returned to protected villages. The General continued, "we have had many cases of people presenting themselves to the authorities who have been kidnapped and forced to live with the Frelimo up to six months, but who have escaped as soon as they could...(these are) people the Frelimo have used to grow crops for them and to act as porters for food and raw material. Sometimes Frelimo have been able to move civilians across the border to Tanzania and Zambia to act as porters from there into Mozambique. They have also been able to move people out of the areas they live in to use them as a barrier against our troops. The General went on to say that Portuguese soldiers would then come across the civilians before engaging guerrillas, therefore giving Frelimo advance warning of the troops' presence.
General Basto Machado recently replaced General Costa Gomes as Chief-of-Staff in Mozambique. General Costs Gomes was dismissed as was his Deputy Chief-of-Staff General Antonio Spinola who has published a book suggesting that no military solution was possible in Mozambique, Angola or Guinea-Bissau. General Costa Gomes had supported Spinola's point-of-view.