The people in the Lake Chilva area of Mozambique are being armed so that they can protect themselves against attack by Frelimo the Mozambique anti-Portuguese revolutionary organisation.
The people in the Lake Chilva area of Mozambique are being armed so that they can protect themselves against attack by Frelimo the Mozambique anti-Portuguese revolutionary organisation. The Portuguese say that the local people are being equipped and trained at their own request at the town of Macanhelas in the southern part of Niassa Province.
600 men are now reported to be under arms with another thousand volunteering to serve in the new militia. The equipment consists of Portuguese-made small arms.
About 60,000 people live in the area of Mozambique bordering Lake Chilva. The decision to arm them against possible infiltrators from Malawi across the lake comes at the same time as an all-out offensive against the Frelimo revolutionaries in Tete province, hundreds of miles to the west.
There has been infiltration from Malawi in the past of Makonde people from the Mozambique/Tanzania border. The Malawi authorities repatriate those who are Tanzanian citizens and hand over to the Portuguese those who come from the Mozambique side of the frontier. But some infiltrators evade both the Malawi and the Mozambique authorities.
The Lake Chilva people do not live in towns and Mecanhelas, about ten miles from the lake, is no more than a small administrative centre.
Arming a militia for the area means issuing weapons to farmers scattered over a very wide area.
Ammunition is strictly rationed; there is a suspicion that it might be used for shooting game.
The new militia have their own war songs which are rapidly becoming the stock village entertainment in the Lake Chilwa area.