Influx of Zimbabweans into Mozambique since elections

Other News Materials 16 April 2008 15:39 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Zimbabweans are arriving across the border into neighbouring Mozambique in increased numbers since the contested elections in their home country, Mozambican officials said Wednesday.

An estimated 5,500 Zimbabweans have crossed the border since March 29 elections, according to Canal de Mocambique daily.

An immigration official at the Machipanda border post in the central province of Manica told the paper the area was witnessing an influx of Zimbabweans.

"There is a massive exodus of Zimbabweans getting inside Mozambique," Boste Marizane, said.

"What is happening is that these days there are lots of people crossing to Mozambique who don't return", Marizane told the paper.

Pedro Jemusse, police spokesperson in Manica, admitted: "There is a surge of Zimbabweans coming in and we are monitoring the situation."

But, in an apparent attempt to deter a wave of refugee claims he said, "we are not giving asylum status to anyone for Zimbabwe is not at war," claiming most were cross-border traders.

Zimbabweans have been waiting 18 days for the results of presidential elections, in which the opposition claims to haved ousted longtime President Robert Mugabe.

The wait has not only exacerbated political tensions but deepened an already unprecedented economic crisis as some of the last productive farms in the country come under attack.

In a sign that many of the Zimbabweans arriving in Mozambique may not be traders, Marizane said that on March 30, the day after the election, 348 Zimbabweans entered the country but only 40 returned.

Cross-border traders usually return after making some purchases.