Mozambique People’s Armed Forces Grow in Strength

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. 11, #43, Oct. 25, 1968, pp. 26-27.]

SEPTEMBER 25 this year marked the fourth anniversary of the Mozambique people’s seething national-liberation war to overthrow Portuguese colonial rule. In the past four years, the Mozambique people’s patriotic armed forces have won victory after victory and grown stronger and stronger in struggle, wiping out large numbers of enemy troops and liberating vast areas with a large population.

A Single Spark Can Start a Prairie Fire

The great leader Chairman Mao has taught us: “The seizure of power by armed force, the settlement of the issue by war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution.” On September 25, 1964, after making full preparations, a small group of Mozambique freedom fighters made a surprise attack on Chai, a small town in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, killing three Portuguese colonialists. The gunfire in Chai proclaimed to the world that the Mozambique people, who had suffered under Portuguese colonial rule for nearly five centuries, have finally embarked on the road of armed struggle after a long and arduous resistance, which was full of twists and turns, and they are determined to take up the gun for the complete liberation of Mozambique.

In the past four years, the Mozambique patriotic armed forces, which have grown in number and strength, have fought about 1,000 engagements and wiped out more than 5,000 Portuguese colonial troops. They have liberated vast tracts of territory and set up a number of guerrilla bases. They have destroyed more than a dozen enemy strongpoints, shot down 36 planes, blown up 5 locomotives and several hundred military vehicles, and captured large quantities of light and heavy weapons, ammunition, telecommunication equipment and other materiel.

The Mozambique patriotic armed forces are most active in Cabo Delgado and Niassa Provinces in northern Mozambique which borders on Tanzania. They have liberated 57,000 square miles of territory in these two provinces (one-fifth of the total area of Mozambique) and more than one million Africans out of the 7.5 million in Mozambique. The Portuguese colonial troops there have lost their initiative in war and have to hide in their strongpoints.

Last March, the Mozambique patriotic armed forces opened up a new battlefield in mineral-rich Tete Province in northwestern Mozambique which borders on Zambia. In an attempt to check the Mozambique people’s armed struggle from spreading southwards, the Portuguese colonialists are planning to build a big hydroelectric darn on the Zambezi River in the province’s Quebrabasa area to “settle” large numbers of Portuguese colonists. The opening up of the new front in Tete Province will blow up this fond dream of the Portuguese colonialists.

Revolutionary War Is a War of the Masses

More and more the guerrilla fighters in Mozambique have come to understand that revolutionary war is a war of the masses. They have paid attention to mobilizing and relying on the masses in their struggle. In the villages in the guerrilla bases, they have organized on an extensive scale people’s militia which takes part in agricultural production in ordinary times and defends the villages during enemy raids. The militia fighters also help the guerrillas by acting as messengers, supplying information and transporting ammunition and supplies. In addition, they do political work and are responsible for mobilizing and organizing the villagers. As a link in keeping close contact between the patriotic armed forces and the masses, the militia fighters provide powerful backing in defeating the enemy.

The most oppressed under the barbarous Portuguese colonial rule are the Mozambique women. They have a deep hatred for their national enemy and an unshakable determination to avenge themselves. This accounts for the important role the brave Mozambique women have played in the liberation struggle. Besides mobilizing their husbands and brothers to join the guerrillas, many women have a strong desire to take up arms themselves to wipe out the enemy. The first women’s detachment of the Mozambique patriotic forces was set up in 1967.

The heroic Mozambique guerrillas join the peasants of the guerrilla bases in farm work and they reclaim wasteland in the less populated areas. As a result of the great development of production by the people in the guerrilla bases under the leadership of the Mozambique patriotic forces, part of the bases’ economic crops are available for export to neighbouring independent African countries in exchange for clothing, bedding, medicine and other daily necessities.

Learning Warfare Through Warfare

The Mozambique patriotic armed forces have learnt warfare through warfare. Tempered in the four-year revolutionary struggle, they have steadily increased their fighting strength and improved their tactics.

In the early stage of their armed struggle, they adopted the highly flexible tactics of fighting in small units. With the African jungles as natural barriers, they harassed enemy strongpoints, ambushed enemy patrols, blew up bridges and destroyed enemy communication lines with mines. As they grew in strength, they organized their battles on a bigger and bigger scale. The guerrillas began to fight in platoons in 1967, and this year they already are able to fight in companies.

The Mozambique guerrillas have realized more and more the significance of concentrating a superior force to deal the enemy crushing blows and to wipe out his effectives.

Last March, a group of guerrilla fighters attacked a Portuguese post in Nambude, Cabo Delgado Province, with a force twice as strong as the enemy’s. The brave guerrillas wiped out almost a whole company of the enemy garrison at one stroke and captured a mortar, and large quantities of other arms and ammunition.

Early in the morning of August 10 this year, the patriotic armed forces in the same province mounted a furious attack on the air base of the Portuguese colonial troops at Muede. They won a notable victory, destroying 12 enemy aircraft with mortar-fire and blowing up the oil depot at the airport, and several military vehicles.

Meanwhile, the patriotic armed forces have steadily improved their tactics, fighting with ever greater skill and flexibility.

Last year, November 18, a company of Portuguese colonial troops stationed at the Nangololo strongpoint in Cabo Delgado Province attempted to launch a sneak attack on a guerrilla base of the Mozambique patriotic armed forces. Having obtained information of the enemy troop movement from the local inhabitants, the guerrillas selected favourable terrain and laid an ambush, waiting for the enemy to fall into the trap. When the colonial troops entered the ambush without any idea of what was in store, the guerrilla fighters promptly met them with withering fire, killing 15. The survivors retreated helter-skelter. When they fled to a village not far from their strongpoint, they were ambushed for a second time, suffering heavier losses. After having trounced the enemy in the first ambush, the guerrilla fighters had swiftly taken a short cut and set up the second ambush on the road which the enemy would pass through in their retreat.

In the middle of last June, the patriotic armed forces in Niassa Province laid mines on a highway, which destroyed two enemy military vehicles and killed ten Portuguese’ colonial soldiers. Before withdrawing, the guerrilla fighters skilfully laid mines around the destroyed vehicles. When a contingent of Portuguese reinforcements rushed to the scene, they stepped on the mines and many of them were brown up. By then, the guerrillas had safely returned to their base.

Carrying the Struggle Through to the End

Hit hard by the Mozambique people’s armed struggle, the Portuguese colonialists are putting up a still fiercer and more cunning struggle in an attempt to maintain their shaky colonial rule.

Seeing its interests in the southern part of Africa seriously threatened,, the common enemy of the world’s people, U.S. imperialism, is increasing its “aid” to the Portuguese fascist regime. While providing the regime with more money and weapons, it got its hatchetman in the southern part of Africa, the white racist regime in South Africa, to send troops to Mozambique to suppress the people’s struggle there.

The great leader Chairman Mao has taught us: “A nation, big or small, can defeat any enemy, however powerful, so long as it fully arouses its people, firmly relies on them and wages a people’s war.” The Mozambique patriotic fighters understand very well that they are not only confronting Portuguese colonialism but also vicious U.S. imperialism. Therefore, they know they should not cherish any illusions about easy victory. The struggle is a protracted and arduous one. Nevertheless, they have stressed that even if their struggle for liberation should last 20 or 30 years, they are determined to carry it through to final victory.

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