Zim alarm over refugees

By Lovemore Ranga Mataire

ZIMBABWE and Mozambique defence and security chiefs have met over a refugee influx in Zimbabwe’s eastern province of Manicaland as people flee growing Renamo rebel insurgency. Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo is currently conducting peace talks with Renamo, which were almost scuttled by the shooting to death of Jeremias Pondeca, a Renamo member of the Joint Commission set up to find ways to overcome the standoff.

The commission has so far reached no definitive agreement on any of the matters on its agenda, including Renamo’s demands for six provincial governors and the inclusion of its militia in the army and police. The commission was set up to prepare the ground for a face-to-face meeting between President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama.

While progress of the talks have remained arduously slow, the situation on the Zimbabwe/Mozambique border in Manicaland Province is turning into a critical humanitarian crisis, as refugees continue to flock into the country.

Zimbabwe recently hosted the 9th session of the Zimbabwe-Mozambique Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security (JPCDS) in Victoria Falls where the issue of illegal migrants featured.

Member of Parliament for Chipinge South, Enock Porusingazi, whose constituency borders Gaza Province, said more than 100 families were crossing into Zimbabwe daily.

“Confidence is yet to be restored on the other side of the border and to date we are talking about 3,600 people who have so far crossed the border into my constituency. The people are getting help from various organisations, including the UNCHR but the numbers continue ballooning,” said Porusingazi.