Big Chinese equipment boost for SAMIM

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Now into its third year, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) finds its equipment stores significantly bolstered by a $100 million Chinese donation.

Equipment and materials in the donation are, according to an African Union (AU) statement, “protective assault vehicles”, military utility trucks, mine detectors, generators, personnel protective gear, “tentages”, sleeping bags, beds and mattresses, computers, printers, cameras, conference furniture, projectors, sound systems and other accessories.

An AU Commission delegation oversaw the Chinese donation to the regional bloc’s mission in the East African country during a mid-November field mission to the port city Pemba. SAMIM Head of Mission Professor Mpho Molomo and senior mission staff accepted the donation.

The delegation from the continental bloc was led by its Director of Conflict Management, Dr Alhaji Bah and comprised staffers from the Political Affairs Peace and Security Department. The mission, as per the statement, was “undertaken in the context of the AU Commission’s provision of support to SADC to enhance engagement and joint efforts in supporting the government and people of Mozambique in addressing the crisis posed by terrorist groups operating in parts of the Cabo Delgado province”.

While in Mozambique, the AU delegation met SAMIM leadership for discussions on implementing the mission mandate, additional AU support and “other areas of possible collaboration”.

The field mission is “testimony” to the AU Commission commitment to “work closely with regional economic communities and regional mechanisms (RECs/RMs) to address peace and security challenges on the continent”.

SAMIM troop contributing countries (TCCs) are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia, with Rwanda providing a thousand-strong force, reportedly at the request of Mozambican President Felipe Nyusi.

The South African commitment of 1 500 soldiers to SAMIM goes by the operational name Vikela with Makhanda-headquartered 6 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion currently undergoing preparation and readiness training under the watchful eyes of an 18-strong mobilisation team. In the team are officers from Joint Operations Division headquarters under the leadership of the Acting Officer Commanding, Joint Mobilisation and Demobilisation Headquarters, listed as a Major G Koose. The Eastern Cape unit is the SA Army Infantry Formation’s specialist airborne one in its Infantry Formation.

SAMIM was set up operationally in mid-2021 as a regional bloc peace initiative to rid Cabo Delgado of ASWJ (Al-Sunna Wa-Jama’ah) insurgents, active since 2017. Fourteen months after activation as a full military force it transitioned to a multi-dimensional mission undertaking combined operations with police, correctional services and civilian input and participation.