By Anna Chibamu
DEFENCE minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri has described as dangerous rumours and lies, reports government has deployed Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) soldiers to Mozambique to help that country quell an Islamist insurgency.
For the past two years, Islamist militants have carried out daring assaults in the northern region of Mozambique, seizing government buildings, burning down villages and beheading people.
The militants have also killed government soldiers with at least 1 000 people confirmed dead and nearly 150 000 displaced.
Recent media reports have also suggested Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi made an appeal to his Zimbabwe counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa for assistance in combating the insurgence by deploying ZNA personnel in the volatile region.
However, giving oral evidence before the Defence and Security Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Monday, Muchinguri dismissed the reports as dangerous rumours and lies.
“Those are social media dangerous rumours and lies. Dismiss them with the contempt they deserve,” she said.
“Regarding Mozambique, there was a (SADC) Troika meeting that took place here in Zimbabwe, but there is no harm when a chairman of an organ is invited by a neighbour to say I have a problem in Mozambique, can you assist me? Equally, any country surely, whether Zimbabwe or any country can raise a flag to say I am in trouble. That is what happened.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is the current chairperson of the SADC Troika on Organ on Defence, Politics and Security Cooperation.
“Because of the location of Mozambique, you cannot go as one country to settle a problem that will overflow to a number of countries,” Muchinguri told the legislators.
“So we take that regional posture. So it is not correct, no country will dare go into a situation, whether it was in DRC, again it was SADC or everywhere that we have gone to, we do have treaties and conventions. We respect those. We abide by certain rules and regulations, principles of SADC that another country cannot go into another territory without general understanding and agreement.
“As chair of the regional bloc currently, Zimbabwe will not act alone, we have Malawi which was also a cause of concern and we did as a region deploy our own observers and technical teams to assess the situation.”
Between 1998 and 2003, Zimbabwe intervened in the DRC war and saved that country from takeover by rebels from neighbouring Rwanda and Burundi. However, Zimbabwe suffered heavy casualty through loss of personnel and military arsenal running into billions of dollars.