SAMIM deployment extended for 12 months

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The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) will remain in the east African country until mid-July next year to “consolidate gains achieved” since its deployment.

This is one of 13 points made in a communique following a virtual meeting of the cumbersomely named “Extra-Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the SADC Organ Troika, Plus SADC Troika, and Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) and SAMIM Contributing Countries to the peace processes in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Mozambique” summit this week.

On the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the summit, according to the communique, approved the SADC mission in the DRC, known by the acronym SAMIDRC, as a regional response to address the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in eastern DRC. The regional bloc mission will be the second from an African regional grouping – the first came from the East African Community (EAC) – to deploy in search of peace in the sprawling and troubled central African country.

The virtual, high-level SADC summit “commended” a DRC government “commitment” to “supplement” the budget of its peacekeeping effort.

The SADC summit was part of a late June “Quadripartite Summit” convened to “facilitate harmonisation and co-ordination efforts” to establish peace and security in eastern DRC. In attendance at that summit were representatives of EAC, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the United Nations (UN), under the auspices of the African Union Commission (AUC) plus SADC.

This week’s SADC summit noted the need for “additional resources” to support DRC peacebuilding efforts. Part of this would be calls for campaigns aimed at mobilising resources from the African Union (AU), the UN and other “international co-operating partners” to support restoration of peace and security in DRC and Mozambique.

In South Africa’s eastern neighbour, particularly Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique, the summit noted an improved security situation and “gradual return” of internally displaced persons (IDPs) “primarily due to reduced terrorist activities”.

The SAMIM deployment extension will, the summit said, “enhance stabilisation processes and facilitate further safe return of IDPs”.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) participates in peacekeeping operations in the DRC (Operation Mistral) and Mozambique (Operation Vikela). In April this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised Operation Vikela extended from 16 April 2023 to 15 April 2024 at a cost of R984 million.

Ramaphosa said up to 1 495 SANDF personnel would be deployed to help Mozambique terrorism and violent extremism affecting the northern part of the country.

The most costly continental SANDF deployment is to DRC, allocated an estimated R1.035 billion between 1 April 2023 and 31 March 2024. Ramaphosa authorised the employment of 1 198 SANDF personnel to serve with the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) to disarm, neutralise and prevent expansion of armed groups.

Operation Mistral cost R801 million in 2019; R637 million in 2020; R691 million in 2021; and R674 million in 2022.