In September 2022 Sergio*, 28, son of a former Renamo combatant – a Disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) beneficiary – started his first-ever formal job. He now works as a security guard in Tete, Mozambique, an opportunity he never thought he’d get. Thanks to the peace process, Sergio is one of more than 1,300 former combatants, and family members to receive socioeconomic and livelihood opportunities as a direct benefit of peace and reintegration.
Sergio was offered an interview for his job as part of the reintegration component of the nationally-owned peace process. DDR is a central component of the Maputo Accord, the peace agreement signed by the President of Mozambique and the Leader of Renamo that formally ended decades of conflict and insecurity, and brought communities together when it was signed in 2019.
“Renamo took my father,” Sergio says. “He was leaving school when armed men from the Renamo party approached him. At that time, he was dating my mother and they were both taken to the Renamo military base. My mother managed to flee to Malawi, where she had spent a few years, while my father served in the party as a military man. After some time, my father managed to escape and found my mother again, and then my brother and I were born.”
In 2000, Sergio’s parents left Mozambique for South Africa in search of work, leaving 5-year-old Sergio and his baby brother with their grandmother.
“Our grandmother was already old,” Sergio remembers. “She sold bread in the market and produced chestnuts; that’s how she paid for me to start my first-grade education.”
Sergio completed 9th Grade when he was 20 years old. He says life would be different if his father hadn’t been in Renamo.
“I would have studied more and maybe I would have had a better job,” Sergio says. “It is difficult now to get a job or fit into society. That’s why I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”
“In Mozambique, the impact of the private sector is evidenced by the benefits to everyone who earns an opportunity for decent work and its positive effects on many more individuals across their families and communities,” emphasises Mirko Manzoni, Personal Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Mozambique. “Employment opportunities for DDR beneficiaries, their families and community members are good for peace.”
Maris, an investment company with operations across Mozambique, joined the cause to consolidate peace and support the reintegration of DDR beneficiaries and their families – whose lives, like Sergio’s, have been shaped by conflict.
“Creating meaningful job opportunities, particularly in regional areas, removes some of the drivers for conflict,” says Phil Taylor, Country Manager for Maris in Mozambique. “Local solutions like this help break cycles of poverty and contribute to economic development across the whole country; this in turn creates stability, which is critical for businesses to function sustainably.”
As the only formally employed member of the family, Sergio now supports his mother, father, wife, three-year-old son, and brother, who live together in Tete city.
“It is good to be happy,” says Sergio. “Now I can manage to help my family. In the future, I would like to have my own business. I want to buy fishing equipment and set up a business in Chitima, on the coast at Cahora Bassa. This is my dream.”
*Name has been changed
Featured image: DDR activities in Moatize, Tete province. For more information visit https://maputoaccord.org. Credit: Peace Process Secretariat