SAMIM extended – new timeframe not known

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Soldiers from five Southern African Development Community (SADC) member countries will be in Mozambique for longer than the original three month deployment announced by the regional bloc’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation.

The extension was announced in Pretoria yesterday (Tuesday, 5 October) following a summit hosted by South African president Cyril Ramaphosa. He currently chairs the regional bloc’s specialist defence and security entity. Present at the summit were the presidents of Botswana (Mokgweetsi Masisi), Mozambique (Filipe Nyusi) and Namibia (Hage Geingob).

A post summit communique notes approval of an extension of SAMIM (SADC Mission in Mozambique), without giving a timeframe. The regional bloc force was referred to as the SADC Standby Force Rapid Deployment Capability (RDC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) by Ramaphosa in his opening remarks to the summit.

SAMIM officially moved into Mozambique in July for three months with defence and military analysts and observers, including Darren Olivier of African Defence Review (ADR,) pointing out the short timeframe was not going to stop the insurgency. It is seemingly led by Islamists under the banner of Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah (ASWJ).

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SAMIM is currently staffed by soldiers and military personnel from SADC members Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa and Tanzania with a further thousand Rwandan troops deployed in the east African country in support of efforts to halt a years-long Islamist insurgency.

The communique has it that: “Summit commended member states contributing personnel, equipment and financial resources for the deployment of SAMIM in support of Mozambique to combat acts of terrorism and violent extremism”. It further noted “remarkable achievements” by SAMIM leadership and troops since the deployment started.

Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais was speedily out of the blocks to question the South African component of SAMIM – particularly the cost.

“Will the South African taxpayer be landed with the cost or will SADC refund costs in a manner similar to that employed by the UN?” he asked adding Ramaphosa’s referencing “appreciation” for SADC member states’ contributions made even more pertinent the question “who’s going to pay?”

“It is irresponsible and reckless to expect funding from the current defence budget. There’s no space in this budget allocation, given extra funding for Operation Prosper in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng – just under a billion) has not been confirmed.

“If additional funds for SAMIM and Prosper are granted in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS)  next month,the source will be both interesting and telling,” he said.

defenceWeb will on 16 November examine regional and international efforts to counter the violence in Mozambique, through a new virtual conference, with the theme ‘Developing a multi-theatre approach to restoring peace in Cabo Delgado’.

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