Zimbabwe plans to dispatch 304 soldiers to join the Southern African Development Community Standby Force in Mozambique that’s helping to fight a terrorist insurgency that’s left more than 3 000 people dead and halted Africa’s biggest private investment yet.
Once the necessary documentation has been signed they will join a SADC force made up of troops contributed by other states in the 16-member bloc, Defense Minister Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri said Thursday in the capital, Harare.
Botswana and South Africa are among SADC members that have sent forces to fight, as has Rwanda, which is not part of the bloc.
Mozambique up until this month resisted allowing foreign armies to help battle a near four-year-old insurgency in the northern Cabo Delgado province. That’s even as the extremist rebels seized key towns putting at risk gas projects that the country is banking on to transform its economy and caused almost 800 000 people to flee their homes.
Landlocked Zimbabwe is reliant on the neighbouring state’s ports for its imports and exports and has a long history of involvement in Mozambique. The guerrilla army affiliated to its ruling party used the country as a base from which to launch attacks on then White-ruled Rhodesia in a 1970s liberation war. In the 1980s and 1990s, Zimbabwean troops intervened to quell a rebellion by militants affiliated to Mozambique’s opposition Renamo party.