Villagers in fear of border attacks

Zimbabwean villagers on the border with Mozambique say they fear a wave of attacks from Renamo rebels, similar to their experiences 20 years ago.

Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi
Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi

Escalating political tensions in Mozambique have seen a return of the Zimbabwean military along the border in increasing numbers, a presence which is causing anxiety on both sides of the border

“When news filtered through we all thought of those years when fellow villagers were killed in broad daylight by members of Renamo,” said Jorbert Malachia, a spokesperson for the villagers. “Since then, we have seen an increase in the number of soldiers patrolling the border and they have assured us of our safety.”

Reports from Chikombedzi near Sango border-post show that villagers were uneasy about possible attacks from Renamo fighters, especially now that rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama had gone into hiding after clashes with Mozambican government forces.

Malachia said the villagers had asked the government to provide them with security even at night.

“We are appealing to government to provide us with security round the clock because we are afraid of being attacked,” added Malachia. “This whole community lost a number of people in the late 1980s when the Mozambican war was at its peak.”

Another resident, Silas Munako of Chibavahlengwe village, said he was already planning to relocate to a safer area.

“We are not sleeping at all because some of us lost relatives during the late 1980s when the Mozambican war spilled into this country, affecting those living along the border like us,” he said.

“We have already packed our bags in case anything goes bad and we will be ready to move further inland where we feel it is safe.”

Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, who recently toured the border, told the villagers that the country had strengethend security along the border.

“I am assuring you that you are safe,” said Sekeramayi. “We have not deployed anyone into Mozambique and I do not foresee us doing so in the future.”

Zimbabwe intervened on Maputo’s side during the last civil war, causing Renamo to make occasional attacks against citizens along the border in retaliation. The war ended in 1992.

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