George Maponga in CROOKS CORNER, Limpopo Valley
ZIMBABWE is on high alert and closely monitoring Mozambique where former rebel movement Renamo has resumed hostilities with the government, but has not deployed any troops to Mozambique, neither has the government there asked for help, Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi has said. The border was safe at present, but Zimbabwe was watching events closely.
Political tension has been escalating in Mozambique over the past few weeks after Renamo started attacking government positions in the central areas of the country, the same areas where they concentrated their banditry in the 1980s and early 1990s while backed by apartheid South Africa.
The banditry ended with an agreement between Renamo and the Frelimo government in 1992, when Renamo disarmed and became a recognised political party.
Now elements of Renamo are returning to the bush, although they have no external source of arms or backing.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a tour of the Crooks Corner-Sango Border Post minefield near the Mozambican border on Thursday, Minister Sekeramayi emphasised that Zimbabwe did not want any escalation of hostilities in its eastern neighbour.
Minister Sekeramayi said Zimbabwe would be concerned if Mozambique was destabilised because of the threat posed to the railway and pipelines that link Harare and the port of Beira.
“We are closely monitoring the situation in Mozambique because we do not want the escalation of hostilities in that country between the government and Renamo.
“We continue to monitor the situation. We share the same border with Mozambique and we are closely monitoring the situation at our border.
“Our main concern is the security of our railway and pipe lines, so we do not want any instability in Mozambique,’’ he said.
He denied reports that Zimbabwe had deployed forces to help the Mozambican government stamp out the Renamo rebellion.
“There is not a single Zimbabwean soldier who has been deployed in Mozambique as we speak. In the event that we decide to deploy our troops there, we will inform the nation,’’ he said.
Minister Sekeramayi said the Mozambican government had not yet raised the issue with Sadc neither has it sought appropriate help.
Under Sadc protocols, every Sadc member has the right to assistance from the rest if they face a security threat they cannot handle on their own.
He said the fact that Mozambique had not yet informed Sadc about the threat to its security posed by the Renamo insurgents meant that Mozambique was able to contain the problem.
“Though Zimbabwe is closely monitoring the situation in Mozambique, the government in that country has so far not yet brought their problems to the Sadc forum so that we discuss appropriate action to take. Maybe, they will inform Sadc if hostilities continue to escalate,’’ said Minister Sekeramayi.
Zimbabwe and Mozambique have a long history of political and military co-operation dating back to the days of the war of liberation when Mozambique hosted Zanla camps.
After independence in 1980 Zimbabwe helped Mozambique to fight Renamo bandits who were being aided by the apartheid authorities in South Africa.
Eventually Renamo was forced to the negotiating table and that culminated in a peace deal that was signed in 1992.
On Monday the Mozambican military attacked and seized a military bush camp from Renamo in Maringue district, in the central province of Sofala after government soldiers had been ambushed by the former rebel movement’s militants in the region resulting in the death of 58 people.