South Africa and Mozambique are satisfied with the state of their defence and security relations, the inaugural SA Mozambique Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security said in a communiqué at the end of its three day meeting on Friday.
“The commission expressed its satisfaction with the co-operation that exists between the two countries at various levels in the areas of defence, state and public security,” the statement said. “It encouraged the two countries to continue to nurture such co-operation for the benefit of the people of both countries.
“The commission also acknowledged that the continued interaction between the defence and security agencies of the two nations is crucial in ensuring security, stability and the economic prosperity of both countries.:
The commission received reports and discussed a wide range of issues pertaining to defence, public and state security, says Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman Sam Mkhwanazi.
The SA delegation was led by Minister of Defence Charles Nqakula and included the Minister of Intelligence Siyabonga Cwele, Correctional Services Deputy Minister Loretta Jacobus and senior government officials.
The delegation of the Republic of Mozambique was led by the Minister of National Defence Filipe Jacinto Nyusi and included the Deputy Minister of Interior José Mandra and senior government officials.
The communiqué adds that the commission resolved that cooperation between SA and Mozambique in the fight against crime, especially organised crime as well as crimes against women and children, should be strengthened, and should include training, cross border crime prevention and combating.
“Regarding military to military cooperation, the Commission highlighted the importance of joint cooperation in all matters that relate to the integrity and sovereignty of both countries.”
The communiqué made no mention of joint air and naval patrols in the two states` maritime zones, an agenda topic advertised in a SA MoD statement announcing the talks in Pretoria.
That statement said the issue was up for discussion “due to international sea vessels rerouting to use the two countries` waters in the light of the high rate of piracy activities in the horn of Africa.”
Mozambique has a coastline some 2470km long, stretching from Tanzania to SA. The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies credits it with a 200-strong Navy that operates two ex-SA Navy Namacurra inshore patrol boats and three river patrol boats.
It has previously asked SA to help patrol its territorial sea and protect against poaching. The hijacking of the ultra large crude carrier MV Sirius Star of Kenya last month has raised fears that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and other naval patrols off Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden might displace pirate “mother ships” into the Mozambique Strait, the body of water separating mainland Africa from Madagascar.
The straight creates a defile for Indian Ocean shipping and contains a number of small islands where pirates could replenish, as indeed they did in past centuries, notably the 17th Century English privateer “Captain” William Kidd. German and Japanese submarines also haunted the Strait during World War Two, as did German commerce raiders such as the armoured ship Graf Spee.
Issues the communiqué says committee did address included an expression of concern at the high levels of HIV and AIDS amongst members of the defence and security services of both countries and the resolve to get both governments to improve all programs that relate to that challenge.
The SA delegation also indicated to the commission that the May xenophobia attacks on foreigners including Mozambicans had “seriously undermined South Africa`s sense of public security.”
“Many peace loving South Africans not only condemned the attacks but also rendered tremendous support to the victims. The delegation further reported that those who were charged with theft from and destruction of the property of the victims were arrested and have been appearing in different courts across the country.”
The commission further “expressed hope that the ongoing efforts to help stabilise the political situation in Zimbabwe would succeed. It called on all parties to respect the agreements that have been signed and implement the relevant recommendations.”
“On matters relating to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Commission commended all efforts, including the decisions that were taken recently by leaders of the Great Lakes Region and SADC, which are designed to address conflict in that country and the unnecessary spilling of human blood, to bring about lasting peace, security and stability.”