SA soldiers to stay in Mozambique until at least mid-April

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South Africa’s military commitment to SAMIM (SADC Mission in Mozambique) has been extended to mid-April this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa informed Parliament via a letter to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

The President is constitutionally obliged, both as the South Africa’s first citizen and Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), to inform Parliament of utilisation and “employment” of soldiers and other military personnel.

The extension of the Mozambique deployment (Operation Vikela) was in a letter dated 28 February stating the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will continue to support the Republic of Mozambique from 16 January to 15 April 2022. It was published in Parliament’s Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC) on 4 March. The letter has it the three-month deployment will cost R984 million, the same amount Ramaphosa quoted for extending the original July deployment in October.

The 1 495-strong deployment will continue being part of the regional bloc force fighting “violent extremists” in northern Mozambique, particularly Cabo Delgado.

South African military personnel first moved into the country’s eastern neighbour last July with the deployment extended for three months in October.

In response to a defenceWeb inquiry, the SANDF said it is currently mobilising Combat Team Alpha for deployment to Mozambique. “Due to security reasons, names of deploying units will not be disclosed. The SANDF has elements of the SA Air Force deploying in Mozambique for air support.”

It is understood Combat Team Alpha is an infantry battalion and will largely replace the Special Forces operators who have been in Mozambique since the start of SAMIM operations.