The rebel Mozambique National Resistance (Renamo) movement has grown from being a minor irritant to the central government in the Manica and Tete provinces to a significant threat throughout the country. In response to this, and in order to give top officials of the Marxist-oriented ruling party complete control in running the country, President Samora Machel has given sweeping powers to three of his top aides. The changes are also considered to be an effort to tackle Mozambique's worsening economic situation.
Shortly before President Machel arrived in the Soviet Union on Sunday, the government announced changes that will leave virtually every aspect of Mozambican society in the hands of three men.
Mario Machungo and Armando Guebuza have been made new party economic chiefs, with the responsibility of 11 ministries and three state secretariats between them. The ruling party's ideological secretary, Jorge Rebelo, has been handed the social welfare ministries.
The most significant change, however, is the recall of Army General Alberto Chipande to take charge of the war against the South Africa-backed Renamo. Chipande, defense minister from 1975 to 1983, and a Mozambican folk hero, was sent back to his home province when Machel took over at the helm of defense. Since then, the conflict with the rebel forces has clearly worsened and is draining Mozambique's economy.
Civilian dissatisfaction with draft dodging, Army desertions, and the government's methods of dealing with a struggling economy are all helping the Renamo insurgency to lengthen its roster and increase its activity.
The rebels, who have been fighting the Marxist government since Mozambique's independence from Portugal in 1975, have recaptured their base at Cavalo. That site is only seven and a half miles from their former headquarters at Mt. Gorongoza, which was captured by government troops last August. The rebels also took a key area near Manianje (220 miles north of Maputo) in early March.