Refugees threaten Zim

CHIPINGE - The security of Zimbabwean communities along the Mozambican border may not be guaranteed after the influx of over 10 000 people fleeing the Renamo insurgency, the Daily News can report.

At least 5 546 of these are Mozambican nationals while a further 5 319 are Zimbabwean returnees, according to a government report.

All the Mozambicans are unwilling to be admitted into Tongogara Refugee Camp (TRC) in which thorough screening against Renamo bandit infiltration would be conducted.

“However, only 88 Mozambicans indicated that they are willing to relocate to Tongogara Refugee Camp representing only 0,016 percent while 5 458 (99,9 percent) indicate that they are unwilling to relocate to TRC,”  Johanne Mhlanga, a refugee status determination officer said.

Currently, there are only 864 Mozambican asylum seekers in the camp and 20 Zimbabwean nationals who are spouses of the Mozambicans, he said from the report.

The stability of the region, from Nyanga down to Chipinge, is further worsened by the relocation of an additional 5 574 from a buffer zone along the border further into the country placing the communities on edge of conflict.

“Mozambicans in Zimbabwe are currently 5 546 — 2 696 in Chipinge East, 2 435 in Chipinge South and Musikavanhu constituencies and 415 in Nyanga North.

“Zimbabwean returnees are 5 319 — 472 in Nyanga, 1 175 in Chipinge East while Musikavanhu and Chipinge South have 3 672.

“5 574 Zimbabweans were relocated from the buffer zone,” Mhlanga said while delivering an abridged version of the report during a recent tour of TRC by Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira.

The census was conducted to verify the credibility of media reports claiming that there were thousands of Mozambicans who had melted into villages in Chipinge, Mhlanga said.

Although TRC administrator Meshack Zengeya acknowledged that the Mozambican refugees were screened to weed out infiltration by Renamo bandits,  the brief to Mupfumira did not say what the huge numbers of Mozambicans along the border communities meant to the stability of their host communities.

Last December, a Mozambican man who had fled the conflict was abducted and later killed back in Mozambique.

Over the same period, nearly 50 cattle were also taken by a band of armed men.

A December 10-dated security brief from Chisumbanje police station says the cattle were taken by “15 suspected Mozambican soldiers armed with AK 47 rifles” and when police visited the Zamuchiya area where the cattle were taken they saw “five suspected Mozambican soldiers and some civilians with machetes and knobkerries”.

Zimbabwe responded by sending the army to secure the border communities.

But the sheer numbers of Mozambicans remain a potent security threat once the skirmishes resume if the current ceasefire which is expected to expire on May 5 collapses.

“The man who was abducted back to Mozambique and killed may not have been a random victim of a senseless conflict but was carefully picked up.

“We are in no way screening these immigrants and allowing them to settle among ordinary villagers risking their safety,” a Mapungwana village head who spoke on condition of anonymity said.

“Our government is messing up its refugee processing protocol and it may cost the nation its peace,” he said.

Zanu PF Chipinge South legislator Enock Porusingazi agreed in an earlier interview that the refugees need to be placed in appropriate facilities for their safety and the preservation of peace.

“Once a person flees from war or terror he is classified a refugee and should be quarantined in a camp for safety and protection. Once let loose he might also be a threat to others,” Porusingazi said.

In other reports, on October 20, 2016 two suspected Mozambican soldiers and 25 men armed with bows and arrows crossed the border into Nyanga rounding up four refugees and their cattle from Nyamutenha Village, Ward 11 where they had settled, locals said.

They were reportedly taken to Nyabutu Camp. Their fate remains unknown.

And locals have bad memories of involvement in the Mozambican civil war.

Renamo rebels have ravaged border communities for food and recruits often committing horrendous acts of terrorism.

In one of the most brutal attacks in 1987, Renamo bandits attacked a school in Chipinge on November 19 where they killed five children before kidnapping nine others whom they later returned with cut off ears and noses.

Comments (1)

Refugees are not a threat to to zimbabwe. If coming to zim brings peace and sense of safety in them , then surely they must come in. It is the responsibility of both Gvts to work together and identify criminal elements along the both sides of border. Its very sad because the security of late has been involved in politics, and neglecting their prime duty safety and protecting citizens, and communities at large. Criminals saw opportunity and vast jungles and began causing havoc. Generally zim has become a lawlessness country. the situation breeds this kind of behavior

X-MAN IV - 24 April 2017

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