A humanitarian crisis is looming along the Zimbabwe-Mozambican border after the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) reportedly displaced over a thousand families from the Zamuchiya border buffer zone as civil war rages in the neighbouring country.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Zamuchiya headman Tasara Zamuchiya said he was facing a serious humanitarian crisis after soldiers issued a three-day ultimatum ordering all families who have been living on the buffer zone to move out without any government help.
“This started in 1976 when people were told not to live in the buffer zone because it was earmarked for military patrols, so the military gave people staying in the area just three days’ notice to leave the area or face forced eviction,” he said.
Zamuchiya said nearly 5 000 people had to move their property and leave their homes under heavy rains as they feared facing the military if they defied the order.
The headman said the war on the other side of the border had affected Zimbabweans after alleged Frelimo soldiers crossed into Zimbabwe with guns and stole nearly 50 cattle from families living in the buffer zone.
“Things just got better when our own army moved in. We have now seen some normalcy, but before that Frelimo soldiers in government uniforms crossed the border and stole cattle from our people, they came in small cars carrying guns,” he said.
Chipinge South legislator Enock Porusingazi made a plea for government to intervene, saying the living conditions of those displaced by the military was appalling.
He said they faced disease outbreaks since they were living in the open without food or safe water and were desperate for help.
“These people have been living in the buffer zone since 1996 and for one to expect them to move safely within just three days without any assistance is a big gamble. they moved their belongings while it was raining and most lost their property including food during this relocation process,” he said.
Porusingazi appealed to Mozambican nationals to preach peace, saying war in their country had a negative effect on people in his constituency.
Musikavanhu legislator Proper Mutseyami who toured Zamuchiya where some of the affected people have sought temporary shelter, said he feared a cholera outbreak if government and humanitarian organisations did not intervene.
“Although people knew that they should not stay in the buffer zone, government watched them settling there and left them for years and now they have been pushed out within just three days without any assistance,” he said.
He said there was also an influx of refugees in the area, especially given that most of the people along the border area had relatives on the other side of the border.
One of the victims, Philato Sithole who was forced to move his family of 15 children and four wives said he had lost all his food after his maize got soaked in the rain.
His bed and other valuable property was destroyed after he left his six-roomed house following the directive.
“I have no shelter over my head and I am forced to squat with my huge family here at my mother’s house after I was evicted from my home of many years. We have no food and life is miserable,” he said.
ZNA spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Alphios Makotore requested written questions when contacted for comment last night.