South Africa’s initial military contribution to ending an Islamic insurgency in the northern part of Mozambique has the Presidential seal of approval and a current expenditure estimate of just under a billion rand.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), informed Parliament via a letter to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise on 23 July, he authorises a three month “employment” of 1 495 South African military personnel in the country’s eastern neighbour at a cost of R984 368 057.
According to the Presidential letter, the South African military contingent is in Mozambique “for a service in fulfilment of an international obligation of South Africa toward SADC (Southern African Development Community), in order to support Mozambique to combat acts of terrorism and violent extremists that affected the area of Caba Delgado Province (sic)”.
No mention is made of the units now “employed” in Mozambique, with Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais seeking details of actual deployment.
“As I understand ‘employment’ is the condition of having paid work, in the military ‘stand by’ is probably the best description. ‘Deployment’, on the other hand, is movement of troops and/or equipment into position for military action and clarity is needed on this as well as further financial commitments,” he said.
The first South African soldiers to be sent to Mozambique were elements of the Special Forces flown in by a SA Air Force (SAAF) 28 Squadron C-130BZ to Pemba on Monday a week ago. They, together with the remainder of troops authorised by Ramaphosa, are the only SANDF personnel presently “employed” in Mozambique.
The deployment is for three months from 15 July to 15 October.
There has been no word from either the regional bloc or the SANDF on what the SA Special Forces elements will do with indications intelligence gathering, reconnaissance and advising FADM (Armed Forces for the Defence of Mozambique) will be initial taskings.