South Africa is sending fresh troops and armored vehicles to Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province as part of efforts to fight Islamic State-connected insurgents.
The deployment is part of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) military intervention, which started in July last year.
More than 3,000 SADC and Rwandan troops have been sent to Mozambique to fight against Islamic State-connected insurgents. The conflict has claimed more than three thousand lives and displaced 800,000 people.
The South African National Defense Force’s spokesperson Brigadier-General Andries Mahapa says the fresh troops will be deployed soon.
“We are just confirming the mode of transport. It could be air, land or sea. Remember in terms of security we cannot come out straight to say we are coming through by land or so forth. So that will compromise us. But we are combat ready to deploy,” said Mahapa.
The joint force is known as the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique or SAMIM.
Willem Els, security analyst and counter terrorism trainer from the Institute of Security Studies, says to this point South Africa has mainly sent special forces to Mozambique.
He says that will change with the latest deployment.
“They are now sending in some mechanized infantry, they sending in some para-bats. They sending in some of your path finder troops as well as well as some of the special forces so it is a more balanced sort of contingent that is moving in to go and stabilize the situation even further,” he said.
Other SADC members with forces in Mozambique include Botswana, Lesotho, Angola, and Zambia.
Rwanda deployed a separate force on the invitation of Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi. It’s believed Rwanda is being backed by the French government as French energy company TotalEnergies SE has a huge gas concession in Cabo Delgado.
Els says the multiplicity of forces can make things complicated.
“You have the SAMIM forces deployed, then you have the Mozambican forces deployed along with them, then you have the Rwandan forces you know your chances of friendly fire are quite high if you have an area operation that overflows, etc. So fortunately, that has not happened as yet and we also notice that some real effort has been put in, in terms of SAMIM and the Rwandan forces to better coordinate and cooperate in terms of their operations,” said Els.
Asked whether the force has been successful, military Mahapa had this to say.
“The force under the current situation they are doing fairly well. Remember that it is not only South Africans. So we are as SAMIM forces there are successes that we are achieving. The insurgents are withdrawing. We are gaining ground,” he said.
Els says besides the military intervention efforts must also be made to make the people of northern Mozambique feel like they are being taken care of by their government. Otherwise, he says, they’re ripe for recruitment by the insurgents.