“The maritime interests of South Africa are derived from it geographical location, geo-economic, structure and geopolitical aspirations and obligations,” she told delegates at the plush Westcliff Hotel in Johannesburg. “South Africa has a coastline is along a major strategic international sea trade route, and is located far from its key trade partners whom it reaches largely by sea.”
Botswana is landlocked and the bulk of its heavy imports and exports are by way of South Africa's ports. “We have international obligations to provide safety of navigation for ships, ensuring freedom of the seas and security of shipping, as well as the protection of maritime environment. South Africa’s national maritime interests include effective cooperation arrangements with neighbouring states and territories within and beyond our region and continent for the management of its maritime domain and interests, our oceans management and good order at sea,” Sisulu added.
“Initially, the threat of piracy seemed to be a remote and unrealistic concern for South Africa’s maritime security. However, as Somali pirate responded to international operations to counter their activities, they began extending their reach deeper into the Indian Ocean and into the SADC maritime zones. The SADC region now faces the threat of maritime piracy most dramatically illustrated by the seizure of a fishing vessel (the Vega 5) in December 2010, the furthest south that the pirates have yet struck,” she said.
“Such threats of piracy are of particular concern to the region and in particular our two countries, whose coastline and shipping lanes are vulnerable. Southern Africa waters have increasingly become an alternative to the pirates who realised that there are large unprotected parts of the Indian Ocean that is extremely lucrative if exploited. Piracy and maritime crime is negatively impacting on the economies of our states depend to a greater extend on tourism income.”
secure and stable region is the favoured way forward as such a context presents favourable opportunities to eradicate poverty and unemployment; improve food security; and promote infrastructural development.
The South African Navy Valour-class frigate SAS Mendi (F148) is reported on station off Pemba port in northern Mozambique where she is conducting an anti-piracy patrol, her second this year in the northern Mozambique Channel.
President Jacob Zuma in June and July authorised the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to combat piracy and other maritime crime off the east coast of Africa. In two letters to Parliament, Zuma said the authorisation expired March 31 next year. Zuma's first letter, to the Speaker of Parliament, dated June 17, authorised the deployment of 200 military personnel from April 21. “This serves to inform the National Assembly that I have extended the employment of 200 members of the SANDF for service in Mozambican waters and international waters to monitor and deter piracy activities along the southern African coast of the Indian Ocean.”
The second latter, to Jerome Maake, co-chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, dated July 20, authorised 377 personnel from April 1. “This serves to inform the Joint Standing Committee on Defence that I have employed 377 members of the SANDF personnel [sic] to the Mozambique coast for a service in fulfillment of international obligations of the Republic of SA toward the Southern African Development Community (SADC) maritime security [sic], in order to minimise the threat of piracy and other illegal maritime activities.” It is not known why Zuma sent two letters to two different parliamentary officials regarding the same deployment but citing two sets of figures and two starting dates.
A SADC heads of state summit in Luanda, Angola adopted an anti-piracy strategy in August along both the east and west coasts of the continent. She added the policy was now being implemented. “We are attending to the matter”, she told a media conference in August.
Cabinet in February mandated the South African Department of Defence to develop a maritime security strategy following an incident of piracy in Mozambican waters in December. The strategy was approved by Cabinet in June. The Joint Operations Division of the SANDF deployed the Mendi, air assets and Special Forces to Mozambique in February to conduct patrols and gather intelligence.
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