SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 21: Members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) inspect Ndofaya Mall after last week’s looting and violent protests on July 21, 2021 in Soweto, South Africa. The violent protests spread from KwaZulu-Natal after the incarceration of the former President Jacob Zuma. (Photo by Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo)

By Mbangwa Xaba

Close to 1,500 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers deployed in a peace-keeping mission in Cabo Delgado, Northern Mozambique, for the past three months at the cost of almost R100 million are due back home next month.

Co-Chairperson of the standing committee on defence, Cyril Xaba, said the South African government recognised the threat posed by the actions of the extremists, not only to Mozambique but to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as a whole”.

He said the deployment of South African soldiers was part a ‘support to SADC to protect and promote the main objectives of the SADC which are to achieve economic development, peace and security in Mozambique”.

“As per Section 201 (3) and (4) of the Constitution, a letter was tabled informing Parliament of the employment of 1,495 members of the SANDF for a service in fulfilment of an international obligation of the republic towards SADC.

“The employment will be for a period of 90 days from 15 July to 15 October 2021 for the expected expenditure of R 984.4 million,” he said.

Code named Operation Vikela, the deployment is in line with Scenario 6 of the African Union Peace Support Operation framework, which was the deployment of Rapid Deployment Capability for an initial three months, with possible follow up deployment under Scenario 5 which would be a multi-dimensional force.

It was agreed during a sitting by the SADC Heads of State and Government on 23 June 2021 in Maputo. Other SADC members states would also be part of the mission, notably Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Botswana. It was prompted by SADC’s concern over Mozambique’s high-level insecurity in Cabo Delgado. The terrorist group of Al Sunnah wal Jama’ah had perpetrated acts of terror and violent extremism could spill over the borders to surrounding countries since 2017.

The Mail & Guardian has reported how the SANDF has shown its first public and maritime presence in Pemba in northern Mozambique with the its navy’s SAS Makhanda strike craft.  This and recent successes by the Rwanda Defence Force in the Cabo Delgado Province the battle plan to rid the area of a brutal insurgency has become clear.

The SAS Makhanda is part of the small maritime contingent of the Southern African Development Community’s intervention brigade known as the SADC Mission in Mozambique or SAMIM. According to maritime experts, the strike craft probably has a maritime reaction group on board to act against any suspect vessels that might be involved in smuggling or the reinforcement of the insurgents in the area.

Meanwhile, AfricaNews has reported a welcome arrival of the SADC ground and naval forces have in Mozambique. On its part, Zimbabwe is said to have sent a team of 304 defence instructors to Mozambique to train Mozambican troops as part of its commitment to the SADC Standby Force Mission. Already, Botswana has deployed 296 troops to Mozambique to join soldiers from the SADC region after regional leaders agreed in June to respond with proportionate force to the terrorists in the Cabo Delgado region who have left a trail of bloodshed and wrecked the country’s economy.

The SANDF has shown its presence in the Indian Ocean heading to Cabo Delgado as the region moves in to help Mozambique deal with the terrorists who have killed about 2 800 people in cold blood and displaced over 800 000 more.

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