The Mozambican Defense Minister said yesterday that the deployment of troops to Cabo Delgado is articulated within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), after South Africa voiced its discontentment regarding Rwandan forces being the first to arrive in the area.
“Everything is articulated within SADC”, said Jaime Neto yesterday in a press conference in the city of Beira.
“At the SADC military level there is joint operational planning and naturally” the same type of “bilateral planning can be more flexible. That is what is happening right now with Rwanda”, he explained.
According to him, Rwandan troops began arriving by air at Nacala airport, in northern Mozambique, on Friday, while the arrival of a force from southern African countries should take place this week, on Thursday.
“In relation to SADC there are dates fixed during the summit”, held at the end of June, in Maputo, “dates that are being fulfilled”.
In this regard, a group of four Botswana officers arrived on Saturday in Pemba, the provincial capital of Cabo Delgado, to begin preparing the troops’ deployment sites and other logistical details, he added.
Jaime Neto stressed that “relations between Mozambique and SADC are going through the best moment” as well as “relations with South Africa”, saying that there may have been “communication problems resulting from interpretations that raise some doubts” – promising to give more information to avoid “mistakes”.
At the same summit in which the intervention of SADC forces in Cabo Delgado was approved, it was defined that Mozambique “was also free to contact a sister country in Africa”.
Rwanda had “a formal SADC contact to be able to intervene militarily here in Mozambique”, he added.
South Africa’s defense minister said on Saturday that “it is regrettable” that the arrival of troops from Rwanda “happens before SADC has deployed its strength.”
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula spoke in an interview with South African public television SABC, noting that “regardless of the bilateral agreement, it would be expected that Rwanda’s intervention to help Mozambique would take place within the scope of the regional mandate decided by the SADC heads of state”.
Ronald Rwivanga, colonel spokesman for Rwanda’s military and defense forces, said on Saturday that the 1,000-man contingent, military and police, deployed in Mozambique, will only return home when their objective is achieved.
“Our contingent will support efforts to restore Mozambican state authority” in Cabo Delgado, “through combat and security operations, as well as stabilization and reform of the security sector,” he told reporters.
The deployment “does not have a specific deadline. Instead, it has a specific mission. We have a mission to fulfill and when it is accomplished we will return home”, he added, saying it is a job to be carried out with the Mozambican and SADC forces.