The Conflict with Renamo
January-February 1979

Dossier MZ-0020

The Attack on Chicamba Real Dam

In 1979, the "phoney war" phase began to change as the Ian Smith regime came under increasing pressure from Patriotic Front liberation fighters, and decided that hitting back harder and harder at Mozambique was a necessary strategy. The Rhodesian Special Air Service (the SAS) was operating in Mozambique with individuals – recruited by the Rhodesian CIO as the nucleus of the MNR – assisting them as guides. The propaganda campaigns against Mozambique also continued. One of the first genuine attacks claimed by the MNR was against the Mavuze power station at the Chicamba Real Dam, near the border with Rhodesia. But although power to Beira was cut off, it was not entirely accurate to call this an MNR attack, as later accounts revealed:

… the SAS and MNR had severed the electricity supply to a vast part of Mozambique and it would be some time before the damage was repaired … The MNR's local knowledge had played a significant part in the success of the mission. They had guided the SAS to the target and had been used as "faces" among the local population – gathering intelligence and spreading the MNR gospel – while the SAS remained under cover … and it was to be their modus operandi for joint missions from then onwards.

[Barbara Cole, The elite: the story of the Rhodesian Special Air Service (Amanzimtoti: Three Knights, 1984) p.246.]

While the Rhodesians were searching for dissatisified Mozambicans to swell the ranks of the «Resistance», the Mozambican security services were busy intercepting large numbers of would-be recruits, and presenting them at mass meetings, and to the media. This would seem to confirm that for whatever reason, the Rhodesian recruiting campaign was at this time having an impact.

Decoration

5 January
Frelimo. Comité Político Permanente. Punir o inimigo: declaração do Comité Político Permanente. Tempo [Maputo], no.432, 14 January 1979, pages 32-33. Click here to view or download a PDF file [515 Kb].

5 January
Ministério da Defesa. Comunicado [5 de Janeiro de 1979]. Tempo [Maputo], no.432, 14 January 1979, pages 34-35. Click here to view or download a PDF file [572 Kb].

8 January
Voice of Free Africa account of Mozambique Resistance Movement's claims. Reported in Summary of World Broadcasts, 8 January 1979. Click here to view or download a PDF file [143 Kb].

12 January
Mozambique capture of agents of Smith regime. Rádio Moçambique on 10 January and Tanjug report on 11 January, reported in Summary of World Broadcasts, 12 January 1979. Click here to view or download a PDF file [126 Kb].

13 February
Mozambique claim of capture of 300 Rhodesian infiltrators. Rádio Moçambique on 11 February reported in Summary of World Broadcasts, 13 February 1979. Click here to view or download a PDF file [95 Kb].

14 February
Alves Gomes. Três dos capturados. Tempo [Maputo], no.432, 14 January 1979, pages 36-39. Click here to view or download a PDF file [1.2 Mb]. Article about Carimo Chico, Cojane Francisco and Namu Chingonde, captured by the FPLM.

19 January
Resistance leader hits out. To the Point vol.8 no.3, 19 January 1979, page 36. An interview with a former FPLM soldier, Daniel Caetano, claiming that Mozambique was becoming a staging post for the export of revolution to Africa. Click here to view or download a PDF file [169 Kb].

19 January
José Ramalho. Guerrillas shatter Frelimo: it's war, says Machel. To the Point vol.8 no.3, 19 January 1979, page 37. Click here to view or download a PDF file [404 Kb].

23 January
Dennis Gordon. Saboteurs blast Beira power and water supplies. Rand Daily Mail [Johannesburg], 23 January 1979. A report on the Chicamba Real Dam attack, stating that power in Beira was down for twelve hours. Click here to view or download a PDF file [178 Kb].

24 February
Mozambique appearance of enemy agent. Rádio Moçambique on 22 February reported in Summary of World Broadcasts, 24 February 1979. Manuel Armando Jambo from Catembe was recruited in 1976 and had done recce work for the Rhodesians, planted mines, and tortured people. Click here to view or download a PDF file [94 Kb].

Left: Several memoirs written by former Rhodesians reveal the extent to which the MNR in its early days was subordinated to the military exigencies of the Smith regime. The covers on the left show some examples of these. They are first, Ken Flower's Serving secretly; second, Barbara Cole's The Elite; and last, Ron Reid Daly's Selous Scouts: Top Secret War.

Decoration