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Renamo recruiting along Zimbabwean border areas

by Cletus Mushanawani
12 Mar 2016 at 20:41hrs | Views
MOZAMBIQUE's opposition movement, Renamo, known for its brutality during the 1990s, is reported to be recruiting youths aged below 35 years along the border areas to join their ranks, The Manica Post reported.

Nyanga North Member of National Assembly Hubert Nyanhongo, who has a farm in Burma Valley and brought the issue to the attention of Parliament last week, confirmed in a telephone interview on Wednesday morning that Renamo agents had been spotted in the area on their recruitment drive.

He said some of his farm workers were also approached but turned down the offer after realising that they were being recruited by Renamo.

Investigations by The Manica Post revealed that a meeting was held in Mazonwe area last month, where those interested were encouraged to register their names.

Initially, the targeted recruits were allegedly duped into believing that they were being recruited by the ruling Frelimo government, only to realise that it was Renamo.

Some reportedly turned down the offer, while others were said to have joined the bandits who caused a reign of terror along the border with Mozambique in the 1990s.

According to Parliament's official publication, The Hansard of March 2, 2016, Nyanhongo said: "Renamo is recruiting youths from Zimbabwe especially along the borders. I would like to know what the ministry (Defence) is going to do about it because we will not allow our youths to be recruited by Renamo. I would like to know the measures that the Ministry of Defence is going to take in order to protect our youth from being recruited by Renamo.

In response, Minister of Defence Dr Sydney Sekeramayi, said: "I have heard his question. If the honourable member knows the place and the time where such an event is taking place, he should notify my ministry as soon as possible. We will then take protective measures to defend our territory."

On Wednesday, Nyanhongo reiterated that the situation along the border areas was worrisome and called on the security agents to be on high alert.

"While I was still in the Zimbabwe National Army I was very much active in terms of border control activities during the Renamo era. I know what was happening and we become worried when we hear that Renamo is at it again.

"Renamo would cause mayhem in areas along the border and I was not satisfied with the response I got in Parliament from the Minister of Defence because this is a matter of high security concern.

"Some of my farm workers were approached including the guard who told me that he refused to join the recruitment exercise after realising that Renamo was behind the recruitment. They are targeting active youths showing that they are serious about their insurgency activities," he said.

Nyanhongo said some youths were lured by the promises they were getting of better fortunes by the Mozambican opposition party.

"We should be worried because if the recruitment is not stopped, our security is at risk because the Mozambican conflict will spill into Zimbabwe as the recruits will be familiar with our territory and tend to retreat here and cause mayhem when under attack.

"They can cross the border to settle old scores with some of the people here in Zimbabwe. Matters of security should be treated as high priority for us to continue enjoying our peace in the country. We should not sit on our laurels because Renamo has links with some of the opposition parties in this country who can take advantage of destabilise the country," he said.

Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Mandi Chimene said it was premature to comment on rumours.

"Yes, these rumours have been doing the rounds, but there is no authenticity. I was in Mozambique last Friday where I had a meeting with my Mozambican counterpart where the issue of Renamo was brought up. During that meeting it emerged that those behind the raids in Honde area of Mozambique were armed charcoal poachers and not Renamo bandits. I understand they were since brought to book and confessed to their actions.

"We still need to confirm with the people along the border areas on the Renamo activities because we do not want to raise unnecessary alarm. However, I want to urge people to be on high alert and report all suspicious movements to the police, their traditional leadership or councillors.

"Our people should be wary of foreigners who promise them better lives. They should not allow themselves to be used to destabilise another nation," said Chimene in an interview on Wednesday morning.

However, reports from the media in Mozambique indicated that Renamo gunmen opened fire on a bus in the central province of Manica, killing two people and injuring a further eight last Saturday morning.

The ambush took place in the Honde area, in Barue District, on the main road from the provincial capital, Chimoio, to Tete, and on to Malawi and Zambia.

Addressing a Press Conference in Chimoio, the Manica provincial police commander Armando Canheze said that because the ambush took place near a position of the defence and security forces, police were able to reach the scene before the attackers had an opportunity to loot the bus.

"A group of seven to 10 individuals opened fire against the bus on the stretch between Chuala and Honde," said Canheze.

"We are working to neutralise the bandits who are sowing terror in the Honde area. We know that they are on a mountain which they are using as a hideout," he added.

This was the third attack by Renamo gunmen in the Honde region in less than a month. In the previous two attacks, vehicles of the defence and security forces on patrol came under fire.

Sources in Mutasa District confirmed that some Zimbabweans who had settled in Mozambique during the 2007 hyper-inflation era were now tracing their roots back to Zimbabwe in Honde Valley area.

The first to return was a family of 16 that retraced its roots to Hamudikuwanda Village in Ward 30, Mandeya 2 on February 22. The family is reported to have fled their homes in Mozambique, dumping a corpse awaiting burial after gathering information that Renamo was targeting to destroy their homes.

Another family of 21 also crossed from Mozambique on February 24 using the Chinaka informal crossing area and settled in Ward Four in Makwara Village with their 17 goats which have since increased to 19 after one of them gave birth to twins.

Source - manicapost