South African Special Forces have arrived in Mozambique as part of the SADC regional standby force. Special Forces appear to have arrived in Pemba on Monday, with photos showing a South African Air Force (SAAF) C-130BZ Hercules (406) unloading soldiers and Hornet vehicles (the Hornet is used by South Africa’s Special Forces). Photos also showed a Botswana Defence Force C-130 at Pemba unloading troops and equipment.

SADC on 16 July presented instruments of authority for the deployment of the SADC Standby Force to Mozambique. On 18 July, defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the rapid deployment force scheduled for Mozambique would identify challenges and if it found the security situation adequate, possibly a full SADC brigade might not be deployed. A provisional report from April proposed an SADC force of nearly 3 000 troops, supported by air and sea assets.

The picture above shows the arrival of South African troops in Mozambique.

Opposition party Democratic Alliance on the weekend said the South African National Defence Force deployment to Mozambique should be put on hold until unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng is contained. 25 000 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) are deployed under Operation Prosper to maintain law and order in South Africa, leaving the SANDF thinly stretched.

Rwanda, meanwhile, has deployed 1 000 troops to northern Mozambique under a bilateral agreement. Soldiers from Rwanda, which is not a member of SADC, would fight alongside Mozambique’s forces and SADC troops, the Rwandan government said on 9 July when the deployment began. Rwandan troops appear to have started patrols in at least the Nangade district of Cabo Delgado as well as near Afungi, the site of a natural gas processing plant. Several dozen insurgents have apparently been killed in skirmishes with Rwandan troops.

The Rwandan deployment has raised the ire of some SADC members, as Rwanda’s involvement is not under SADC control. According to Darren Olivier, defence expert and Director at African Defence Review, having SANDF, Botswana Defence Force and other SADC forces under one command, Rwanda Defence Force forces under an independent command, and Mozambican military forces under their own command all operating in the same area without a clear mechanism for cooperation “is a recipe for disaster.”

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