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“Mozambique spends fortunes on Russian and South African mercenaries”

The UN secretary-general’s representative in Mozambique, Mirko Manzoni, said that the country’s partners should provide it with military aid to combat the rebels in Cabo Delgado.

“Donors contribute to Mozambique’s budget, it would be wiser if they helped the Mozambican army directly, without hypocrisy,” he said Tuesday in an interview with the online edition of the Swiss newspaper Le Temps.

Manzoni, who until 2019 had been Switzerland’s ambassador to Mozambique, and was then chosen by António Guterres to accompany the peace negotiations between the government and the opposition, spoke in this interview about another issue, that of the armed insurgency in the north of the country.

He said he was opposed to the use of mercenaries, but the situation was complex: the reality on the ground must make us reflect.

“When you ask for help and nobody moves a finger, that is what happens. Mozambique spends its fortunes on mercenaries,” first with Russians from the Wagner group and now with a South African company, Manzoni said and then calls for direct aid from donors.

Mirko Manzoni said they must listen to the leadership of the Portuguese-language country.

“Let us listen to Mozambique’s appeal: military aid must be provided through cooperation,” that is, help the Mozambican army to fulfil its obligations, rather than taking its place.  

He says he is aware that such aid is not well seen among the partners, who do not want to “get their hands dirty”, but it is an illusion to want to develop Cabo Delgado province without security first, he said.

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