The defence ministry says the MoU will ensure security and the free flow of goods along the east coast of Africa from Tanzania, Mozambique through to South Africa. The President of Tanzania, Jokaya Kikwete and his Vice President, Mohamed Gharib Bilal, witnessed the signing.
The trilateral agreement will see the three countries working together in securing territorial waters of each respective country, he South African statement says. “This includes the three parties sending members to participate in the combined maritime operations aimed at searching and interdicting bases of pirates and any other illegal activities in the territorial waters.”
In his remarks at the signing, Kikwete extended his appreciation to President Jacob Zuma and his counterpart Armando Guebuza of Mozambique for working together in combating piracy along the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean, adding “we will do everything possible to support our forces in combating piracy effectively...we have to keep our seas safe”.
Delivering her speech at the signing ceremony, Sisulu said the three countries have “taken a lead in implementing the maritime strategy endorsed by Southern African Developing Community (SADC), we can keep our seas free from piracy”. “Today’s MoU [it was signed yesterday] gives right to the three forces to among other things, patrol, search, arrest, seize and undertake hot pursuit operations on any maritime crime suspect or piracy.”
The South African frigate, SAS Isandlwana, is currently deployed in the Mozambican channel to combat piracy activities as part of Operation Copper.
The signing ceremony was also attended by Chief of the South African Navy, Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu, the Tanzanian and Mozambican Military Command as well as delegations from “respective countries”.
President Jacob Zuma in June and July last year authorised the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to combat piracy and other maritime crime off the east coast. In two letters to Parliament, Zuma said the authorisation expired March 31 this 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.
Sisulu in August added a SADC heads of state summit in Luanda, Angola had adopted an anti-piracy strategy to fight a growing scourge 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. A further event is to be scheduled to announce the policy, she added.
Cabinet in February last year 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.
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