Tuesday, December 04, 2012

MDC-T fears over Mozambique border troop deployment

MDC-T fears over Mozambique border troop deployment
03/12/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

THE MDC-T said on Monday it was concerned that the reported deployment of troops to the border with Mozambique could be exploited by pro-Zanu PF generals to harass locals for political gain.

Zimbabwe is reportedly massing troops along the border with Mozambique to the east of the country in anticipation of a civil war in the country.

But Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party claims army chiefs are “an extension of Zanu PF” and could use the deployment to go on a campaign of harassment against supporters of rival parties.

“The government must first educate the soldiers they are deploying in Manicaland on their actual mandate, so that they do not stray and harass people as we approach the elections set for next year,” the MDC-T said in a statement.

“Whilst its crucial for the government of Zimbabwe to deploy army personnel at our borders with Mozambique in case the Renamo bandits cause any instability,” the statement went on, “the desperate army bosses who are an extension of Zanu PF must not take any advantage of the situation and send partisan soldiers to campaign for Zanu PF and harass innocent civilians perceived to be MDC supporters.”

The Defence Ministry has so far not confirmed the troop deployment, first reported by The Daily News.

Correspondents in the region say there is no visible troop movement, and ministers privately believe there is a generally low risk of Mozambique slipping into conflict because of the diminished fighting capacity of Afonso Dhlakama’s Renamo rebel force.

On Monday, Mozambique's government said it held talks with restive ex-rebels over a list of grievances the former fighters say they have accumulated since signing a peace deal with Frelimo ruling party twenty years ago.

“The meeting was cordial although there was some emotion during the first phase when we talked about the composition of the security forces,” said Agriculture Minister Jose Pacheco.

The meeting came after Renamo returned to a former military base and threatened to return to war unless President Armando Guebuza’s Frelimo government agreed to negotiations.

Both parties were key actors in a brutal 16-year civil war that lead to the deaths of one million Mozambicans.

After two hours of preliminary talks, the government agreed to meet Renamo again in a week's time, but said the opposition party must be more specific about its grievances.

“We would like know what Renamo specifically wants, they need to go from general declarations to concrete examples,” Pacheco said.

“When we talk about exclusion they must tell us who is being excluded so we can include them.”

Renamo complains only members of the ruling party are receiving the country's new-found natural resource wealth.

Renamo also wants more of its demobilised fighters included in the security forces, and an overhaul of the electoral system to prevent fraud.

Renamo has put pressure on the government to respond to its demands. Once demobilised Renamo fighters have been undergoing training in the remote mountain camp since October.
After the talks the ex-rebels accused the government for not taking them seriously enough.

“The Frelimo government is always the same. They don’t appear to see the issues we raised as legitimate. This worries us, but we hope that in the coming days the government will respond positively,” said the head of Renamo's delegation and the party's Secretary General, Manuel Bissopo.

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