The Conflict with Renamo
December 1981

Dossier MZ-0020

The Capture of Garágua Base and its Consequences

The war against the MNR can in some respects be said to have begun in earnest – in tactical terms at least – in November and December 1981. In response to South Africa’s attempt to use the MNR as a cover to cut the road, rail and pipeline connection between Beira and Mutare, in newly-independent Zimbabwe, Mozambican forces attacked and on 8 December captured the major MNR base at Garágua in Manica province, with substantial amounts of weaponry and ammunition falling into government hands.

The capture of the base was followed, according to the press reports, by vigorous pursuit operations, code-named ‘punição’. Within a short time, although it is not absolutely clear whether there was a connection, the MNR killed two Portuguese technicians in Guro district, and kidnapped the British ecologist John Burlison and a Mozambican teacher, Moisés Carril, from the Gorongosa Wildlife School. A Tanzanian cooperante at the school managed to escape on foot; extraordinarily his wife, a nursing mother, was released unharmed by the MNR a few hours later. Burlison’s kidnapping turned out to be a major propaganda coup for the MNR; he was eventually released on Zimbabwean territory in May 1982.

Tome Eduardo

Above: Maj.-Gen. Tomé Eduardo and Maj. Fernando Cachaça at Garágua after the FPLM had captured the MNR base. Left top: John Burlison. Left bottom: a handwritten list, in English, of the names of recruits in the MNR’s First Company. Click on the small image to view a larger PNG image file.

Decoration

1977 1978 September 1981

Decoration

December 1981
Paul Fauvet. Mozambique: threat to SADCC strategy. Africa Now [London], December 1981. Argues that the attacks in Mozambique may be aimed at cutting off Zambia and Zimbabwe from access to the sea. This copy is poor quality and incomplete. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 91 kb.

3 December 1981
Michael Holman. Now there’s method in MRM attacks. Rand Daily Mail [Johannesburg], 3 December 1981. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 85 kb.

5 December 1981
Operations against Mozambican National Resistance. South African radio broadcast of 5 December 1981 published in the Summary of World Broadcasts [London]. A note adds that África Livre has started broadcasting again. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 22 kb.

6 December 1981
Detidos cinco agentes do inimigo. Tempo [Maputo], no.582, 6 December 1981, p.4. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 13 kb.

8 December 1981
Mozambican dissidents’ reported decision to ask for external assistance. Summary of World Broadcasts [London], no.ME/6900, 8 December 1981, p.ii. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 262 kb.

8 December 1981
Mozambican dissidents’ reported decision to ask for external assistance. Summary of World Broadcasts [London], no.ME/6900, 8 December 1981, p.B/1. Cleverly, the MNR, at this time pretty much entirely reliant on South African support, uses Mozambican-Zimbabwean cooperation to justify a ‘decision to seek external aid’, thus representing itself as entirely a domestic phenomenon. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 258 kb.

10 December 1981
USA and South Africa waging undeclared war against Mozambique. Summary of World Broadcasts [London], no.SU/6902/A5, 10 December 1981, p.1. TASS commentary. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 264 kb.

Captured armaments

Above: weaponry captured at Garágua. This crate originally contained a light 60mm. mortar, with its accessories, manufactured in Portugal in the 1960s by the Fábrica de Braço de Prata (FBP; later part of INDEP) for use by light infantry in heavily wooded terrain, especially in African campaigns. The Portuguese word morteirete was a trade name of the FBP company. The Mozambican government claimed that the MNR’s weapons were airdropped by the South Africans.

11 December 1981
Destruída base inimiga. Notícias [Maputo], 11 December 1981. The first news item on the capture of the Garágua base. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 143 kb.

11 December 1981
Maputo’s dossier on SA attacks. Rand Daily Mail [Johannesburg], 11 December 1981. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 882 kb.

12 December 1981
Operation against Mozambican rebel base. Summary of World Broadcasts [London], no.ME/6904, 12 December 1981, p.ii. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 258 kb.

12 December 1981
Fernando Lima. Após ocupação de Garagua: punição prossegue com acções de perseguição. Notícias [Maputo], 12 December 1981. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 343 kb.

13 December 1981
Forças armadas destroem base inimiga. Domingo [Maputo], 13 December 1981, p.2-3. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 757 kb.

14 December 1981
Maputo claims proof of major SA aid for rebels. Rand Daily Mail [Johannesburg], 14 December 1981. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 120 kb.

14 December 1981
The operation against Mozambican bandits. Summary of World Broadcasts [London], no.ME/6905, 14 December 1981, p.B/1- . Transcript of ANGOP news item. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 261 kb.

14 December 1981
The operation against Mozambican bandits. Summary of World Broadcasts [London], no.ME/6905, 14 December 1981, p.B/1- . Transcripts of Mozambican radio broadcasts. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 261 kb.

15 December 1981
Garágua: prosseguem acções contra bandidos. Notícias [Maputo], 15 December 1981. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 72 kb.

20 December 1981
Arlindo Lopes. Garágua: punição exemplar. Tempo [Maputo], no.584, 20 December 1981, p.20-27. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 2.3 Mb.

25 December 1981
Bandidos armados assassinam técnicos da SHER. Notícias [Maputo], 25 December 1981. Two Portuguese technicians, Joaquim José Estrela Rato and António Martins Joaquim, working for the Sociedade Hidro-Eléctrica do Revué (SHER) are killed on 20 December in Guro district. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 47 kb.

28 December 1981
Mozambique reports abduction in game park. New York Times [New York], 28 December 1981. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 167 kb.

28 December 1981
Na Gorongosa, bandoleiros raptam moçambicanos e estrangeiros: FPLM em perseguição do bando armado. Notícias [Maputo], 28 December 1981. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 172 kb.

28 December 1981
Joseph Hanlon. Briton missing. Guardian [London], 28 December 1981. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 19 kb.

29 December 1981
Two murders. Agence France Presse [Paris], 29 December 1981. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 26 kb.

30 December 1981
Kidnapping of foreign instructors in Mozambique. Summary of World Broadcasts [London], no.ME/6915, 30 December 1981, p.B/3. Click here to view or download a PDF, size 259 kb.

Decoration