HARARE - Rwandan refugees living in Zimbabwe have been accused of being behind the violence that has rocked Zimbabwe, especially in the run up to the recent rerun of the presidential elections.
Inter Press Service news agency (IPS) reported Tuesday that the refugees were allegedly hired by Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF to spread terror in the hearts of supporters for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
“Eyewitnesses say the men are more vicious than their Zimbabwean counterparts…. They dress in army fatigues, carry Russian-made guns and are accompanied by interpreters when out with the militias,” reports IPS.
Even more worrying for Zimbabwean opposition are further reports of active movements of Interahamwe and FDLR members from refugee camps in Zambia to go and join the attackers in Zimbabwe.
Patrick Chitaka, the MDC chairman in Manicaland province was quoted by IPS that the foreigners had been identified supporting government-backed men.
“We have observed that some of the people leading the violence are foreigners because they speak a different language and they do not understand our local languages,” Chitaka said.
Reports reveal that some of the Rwandans are members of the Interahamwe militia and the ex- FAR (defeated former government army) who spearheaded the 1994 Genocide of Tutsis in which an estimated one million people died.
“Also the tactics they are using are not peculiar with Zimbabweans because they are cutting out the tongue, removing eyes and genital parts.
“They are cruel and brutal. Each unit has an interpreter who tells them what to do. People here live close to several borders and they know Portuguese from Mozambique and languages from Malawi and Zambia. They don’t speak any of those or English,” Chitaka continued.
IPS continued that among the Rwandans living in Zimbabwe is Protais Mpiranya, the former commander of the presidential Guards in Rwanda who is wanted by the ICTR for Genocide.
A UK weekly, The Sunday Times, reported last month that Mpiranya was holed up in Zimbabwe where he enjoys the protection of senior government officials.
“He is one of a handful of top leaders of the Genocide to have got away. After hunting down, sexually assaulting and murdering Agathe Uwilingiyimana, the prime minister, on April 7, 1994, troops under his command hacked to death the 10 Belgian UN paratroops who had been ordered to protect her,” the paper reported.
It quoted UN officials saying that Mpiranya, one of the leaders of the rebel FDLR, had established business links with the army officers during the Democratic Republic of Congo war in 1998 when he had allied his forces with the 11,000 Zimbabwean soldiers sent there.