In fulfilment of its promise to the SADC bloc, Zimbabwe will deploy 304 army personnel to Mozambique as part of the SADC Standby Force Mission force to quench terrorism in the Cabo Delgado region.
Announcing the upcoming deployment, Minister of Defense and War Veterans Affairs Oppah Muchinguri said due processes are in place and clarified that Zimbabwe pledged to provide a training force, for the standby force.
It was only last month that Mozambique agreed to allow foreign armed forces to intervene in the ongoing conflicts that have ravaged parts of Mozambique, following a Heads of States meeting that was held earlier in June this year.
“ Zimbabwe’s pledge to the SADC standby force mission in Mozambique is as follows: A training team comprising 303 instructors train one infantry battalion-size unit at a time, one specialist officer to the coordinating mechanism of the SADC standby force headquarters in Mozambique,” said Muchinguri.
SADC signed a status of force agreement on combat activities on 8 July and the status of force agreement on training activities is yet to be signed.
Based on that, other SADC countries are sending combat troops to Mozambique. South Africa has already deployed 1 485 troops, with Botswana also contributing 70 of its promised 296 soldiers to Mozambique. Angola has also authorized 38 officials to join the force.
The Mozambican authorities also signed a bilateral agreement with Rwanda, which is not part of the regional bloc. Rwanda has, in line with this agreement deployed 1000 soldiers to deal with the insurgency in Mozambique.
Tensions are rising in Mozambique as the standby force is slowly coming together with activists raising human rights violations and coordination fears.
“These are troops from different nations, different cultures (and) different codes of operation. It’s a further challenge for Mozambique to coordinate this. It’s a further militarization, which can fuel the conflict with consequences for the local communities, for humanitarian situations and abuse of human rights,” Adriano Nuvunga, Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development in Maputo, is on record saying.
Section 214 of the Zimbabwean Constitution refers to the political accountability for the deployment of Defence Forces. It requires that the President must cause Parliament to be informed promptly and in appropriate detail of reason for their deployment and place where they are to be deployed.
Muchinguri said the Parliament of Zimbabwe will be formally notified and the army personnel will be sent to Mozambique once the status of force agreement on training has been signed.
Zimbabwe enjoys a long-term bilateral relationship with Mozambique with whom they share borders, trading partners and previously used the country as training camps during the liberation struggle. Zimbabwe has before been instrumental in quenching civil wars caused by opposition party Renamo during the yesteryears.