By Jorge Joaquim
The SADC stand by force has not yet arrived in Mozambique, despite the mandate envisaged that the deployment of the force should happen as from 15 July, defence ministry spokesman Omar Saranga said yesterday.
An advance team has arrived, as well as security analysts. Pictures of a South African military transport plane have been circulating, apparently at the airport of Pemba in Cabo Delgado.
“So from 15 July to now activities have been undertaken in order to receive this force, which is rather substantial. Steps are being taken so that it can be received and carry out its work. That means there are advance teams which are working with our troops on the ground to receive the force,” Saranga said.
South African defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told members of parliament on Sunday that an advance party would determine if the full SADC force was needed; the size has not been revealed, but military experts advised SADC in April to send almost 3,000 troops plus helicopters, aeroplanes, patrol ships and a submarine.
Meanwhile, Rwandan troops, who have already arrived in Mozambique, have begun to engage the insurgents. They reportedly killed 30 insurgents, who were retreating towards the Tanzanian border, after encountering them at the village of Quionga.
President Filipe Nyusi has said that no other country supplying troops to fight terrorism in Cabo Delgado province has asked for anything in return, calling the help an “act of solidarity”.
Nyusi said that the situation had improved overall in the region compared to a few months ago, but he admitted that there were still areas controlled by insurgents, including Awasse, where intense fighting continues for an area that was under terrorist control until recently.
The president also reiterated that Mozambique was in charge of the foreign troops deployed to the country and that Mozambicans should not fear their presence.
According to the Ministry of Defence, besides South Africa and Botswana, Tanzania and Angola have also confirmed that they will send forces.