Hundreds of Mozambican refugees and Zimbabwean emigrants are flocking into Manicaland, fleeing increased attacks by Renamo bandits in Mozambique.
Authorities estimate that at least 400 families have erected shacks in Mabee, Chipinge South, with United Nations agencies reporting that thousands of Mozambicans had also crossed into Malawi. Renamo bandits, led by Mozambique opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama, have been fighting President Filipe Nyusi’s forces after the former scuttled a power-sharing agreement citing “an unfair governance system”.
The rebels are burning villages and social facilities in Tete and Manica, both provinces close to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s security chiefs recently said they would protect citizens and the country’s economic interests.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Engineer Tapiwa Matangaidze said 334 Zimbabwean families living in Mozambique side were now at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Manicaland.
He said, “These families are originally from Chipinge, and had migrated to Mozambique. We are now working on identifying their places of origin so that we can reunite them with their families.
“We have not received reports of Mozambicans fleeing to Zimbabwe save for one family of 19 that is at Tongogara Refugee Camp.”
Chipinge South National Assembly representative Enock Porusingazi told The Sunday Mail: “It is happening; over 400 families have crossed into Zimbabwe as they flee ongoing violence by Renamo bandits.
“Most of these families have lost properties, and fled after being forced to denounce the ruling Frelimo government. We have also discovered that many of those fleeing Renamo are Zimbabweans living on the Mozambican side.
“The last time Renamo encroached into Zimbabwe, they looted cattle and food, sending locals into panic. We are also concerned with the refugees’ plight.
“There is no water and there are no toilets; the refugees do not even have food to eat. We are, therefore, appealing for assistance and we hope the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will also come to the rescue.”
Renamo was created by the Rhodesian Central Intelligence Organisation with collusion of apartheid South Africa West Germany and the United States shortly after Mozambique’s independence in 1975 to destabilise President Samora Machel’s Frelimo government, which strongly supported liberation movements in the region. Renamo blew up key infrastructure and killed villagers, leading to a full-fledged civil war that cost a million lives and ended with a power-sharing agreement in 1992. But in 2014, Mr Dhlakama refused to accept Frelimo’s electoral victory, once again resorting to arms.