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South African military deploys troops to Pemba, northern Mozambique

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SADC ground and naval forces have arrived in Mozambique's troubled northern province as part of a combined regional force to quell insurgents who have caused much suffering and whose presence in a member state presents a threat to the whole region.

On its part, Zimbabwe is sending 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.

South African media reported yesterday that the country's South African National Defence Force (SANDF) showed its presence in the Indian Ocean heading to the 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.

As part of Zimbabwe's contribution, last week Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri announced that President Mnangagwa, who is also the Commander-In-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) will be deploying instructors to Mozambique in accordance with the country's Constitution.

"Zimbabwe is awaiting the signing of the Status Force Agreement after which the Zimbabwe training continent will be sent to Mozambique. Once the training team is dispatched, Parliament will be informed accordingly in terms of section 214 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe," she said.

A Status Force Agreement is an accord that allows foreign troops to deploy into a host country, and presently South Africa and Botswana have signed the agreement with Mozambique.

Minister Muchinguri said Zimbabwe's impending deployment to Mozambique is in terms of section 213(1) (a) and subsection 213 (3) of the Constitution which state that the President, as Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces has authority to deploy the Defence Forces outside Zimbabwe for reasons including defending the territorial integrity of a foreign country.

"This issue is no doubt of great importance to Zimbabwe considering our proximity to and warm relations with Mozambique and is also critical to the peace, security, and stability of the entire SADC region."

Meanwhile, South Africa's SAS Makhanda which is docked in Pemba will form part of the small maritime contingent of the SADC's intervention brigade known as the SADC Mission in Mozambique or SAMIM, South African media reported yesterday.

The first contingent of armoured vehicles from 43 SA Brigade, based north of Pretoria, was also visible as it moved through the border post of Ressano Garcia at Komatipoort at first light on Saturday. Trucks moving Casspir armoured personnel carriers, support vehicles, and ambulances were posted on social media.

The convoy contained the first of South Africa's mechanised infantry battalion vehicles and was escorted by the Mozambican military police on its journey of some 2 500km to Pemba.

Two of the South African Air Force's Hercules C130 cargo aircraft have been flying regular flights between Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria and Pemba in the past two weeks transporting soldiers, equipment, ammunition, and a contingent of Special Forces.

An Air Force Cessna Caravan light aircraft arrived in Pemba last week and its crew has set up base at Pemba's international airport. The Caravan will presumably be used for aerial reconnaissance of both the coastline and inland when the SAMIM force starts its operations to oust the insurgents from Cabo Delgado, South African media reported. On July 26, Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi saw his first contingent of 296 soldiers off at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport.

A long convoy of armoured assault vehicles and other support trucks were also seen as it crossed the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique at Gondola.

Rwanda, which is not part of SADC, has deployed more than a 1 000 soldiers who have killed some 30 insurgents in joint military campaigns with Mozambique.

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