Zim deploys troops on Moza border

HARARE - Zimbabwe this week increased military presence along its 1 231km border with Mozambique to monitor the threat of armed conflict across the border.

This follows the danger posed by renegade Mozambican politician Afonso Dhlakama, who has taken a rag-tag army of followers to Gorongosa threatening war.

Zimbabwe’s move is likely influenced by Dhlakama’s heinous crimes against Zimbabwean citizens, particularly those in Manicaland Province when he waged a brutal civil war against the legitimate Mozambican government in the 1980s.

Sources told the Daily News that the first batch of forces was moved to the border lines this week.
Zim deploys troops on Moza border.

Other soldiers have been placed on high alert.

The troops were deployed to prevent the violence feared in Mozambique from spilling over into Zimbabwe as happened before.

Since the threat by rebel-turned-opposition-leader Dhlakama to destabilise Mozambique, Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields, 400km east of Harare, have also been seen as a potential flashpoint for conflict.

There are fears by Zimbabwean officials that Dhlakama could be used by “hostile forces” to destabilise the rich diamond belt.

Zimbabwe is also interested in securing its 287km-long Feruka pipeline from Beira in Mozambique to the oil refinery just outside Mutare.

 Mozambique’s Companhiado Pipeline Mozambique-Zimbabwe, also known as CPMZ, controls the rest.

Instability in Mozambique could scuttle a second fuel pipeline that Zimbabwe was building from Savana, 50km north of Beira to Msasa.

The deployments came a week after a visit to Zimbabwe by a top Mozambican military general, sources said.

Zimbabwe is gearing up for a tough fight to help Mozambique’s government forces repel Dhlakama’s militants if asked to help, sources said.

The two countries have a history of military ties since Zimbabwe’s 1970s war of independence when the late Mozambican president Samora Machel provided support for guerrillas fighting Ian Smith’s racist regime.

There is a risk Mozambique could descend into chaos after Dhlakama and his Renamo soldiers threatened to topple the ruling administration, and seize the country if President Armando Guebuza’s administration does not revise a 1992 peace accord entered with the then president, Joaquim Chissano so as to integrate more Renamo fighters in the armed forces and in other state institutions.

Dhlakama has decamped from his residence in the northern city of Nampula with 700 former Renamo guerrillas to the central district of Gorongosa, near his old guerrilla base at Casa Banana to spearhead a rebellion.

 Dhlakama is referring to his new base as his “general staff headquarters”.

Security sources said Zimbabwe Defence Forces initially sent a signal to all army barracks to be on “high alert” regarding Dhlakama’s move to Gorongosa, prior to Tuesday’s deployment.

It was not immediately clear if Guebuza had made a formal request to Zimbabwe for military assistance to help prepare for the potential rebellion.

Defence forces spokesperson Colonel Overson Mugwisi declined to comment, referring the Daily News to Alphious Makotore, the army spokesperson.

Makotore asked this paper to hand deliver written questions to the KG VI army headquarters although it was too late to do so last night.

Defence minister Emerson Mnangagwa’s mobile was unreachable for comment at the time of going to print.

Zimbabwe will need to seek a Sadc Troika mandate to send in troops into Mozambique.

Harare will have to clearly spell out the objectives of such an operation and how it would be carried out.

Diplomats have privately expressed scepticism about Dhlakama’s threats to go back to war.

Zimbabwe has in past intervened militarily in Mozambican conflicts, as well as in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The conflict in Mozambique will exacerbate a deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in the turbulent southern African region, where millions are on the brink of starvation due to drought. - Gift Phiri, Politics Editor

Comments (1)

You mention the "racist Smith regime" but that's a lie, look at the biggest racist of all time mugabe with his attitude towards white people.

Peter Macklyn - 1 December 2012

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