New SAMIM force commander is SA Army veteran

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SA Army Major General Patrick Dube will, in all probability, be the final force commander of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) before it stands down in July.

Dube, well-respected in South African and continental defence and military circles, arrived for his second tour of duty and first as force commander in the east African country last month (January).

Addressing officers attached to the South African SAMIM contingent and others at SAMIM Force Headquarters in Cabo Delgado provincial capital and port city Pemba, he emphasised his commitment to the mission’s strategic objectives. Reporting on the two-star’s arrival, Major Mpho Mathebula of the SA Contingent Headquarters quotes him as saying: “I would hate it if I made enemies here, except if it’s those that we are searching for out there, who are causing trouble to the people of Mozambique and the people of SADC”.

He acknowledged the responsibilities the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) took on when deployed outside South Africa, saying the force was “a symbol of national power” and South Africa “as a signatory to any international agreements” is “obligated to play a role”.

He is the second South African to head the force component of the regional bloc mission in President Felipe Nyusi’s country. The first was Major General Monwabisi Dyakopu who, like Dube, has successful tours of duty in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with the MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) to his credit. The SAMIM force was – at one time last year – under the leadership of an interim commander in the form of Botswana Defence Force Brigadier General Gaboratanelwe Tshweneetsile.

In addition to continental tours of duty, Dube has been closely involved in internal operations and any number of training exercises. These include the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) deployment to manage and operate public hospitals during a lengthy civil service strike in 2007, the multi-disciplinary anti-crime Operation Fiela in 2015, and the rural security operation Stipper.

South Africa along with Angola, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia are the troop contributing countries (TCCs) to SAMIM since it was stood up in July 2021. The July 2024 withdrawal is as per a directive from the regional bloc Organ Troika Summit instructing SAMIM leadership to start a phased drawdown in December 2023 ahead of complete withdrawal in July.