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South Africans deploy to Mozambique

The initial elements of the force that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is deploying to Mozambique have begun arriving at Pemba, images that began to circulate on social media on 21 July confirmed.

The images showed a South African C-130 transport aircraft at an airport where the markings on the apron matched those at Pemba. Soldiers were seen unloading Hornets: a small vehicle used by South African special forces.

The arrival of a rapid deployment force was originally scheduled for 15 July, but Mozambican Minister of Defence Jaime Neto said on the following day it had been delayed by “formalities”: an apparent reference to the signing of a status of forces agreement.

The original plan was for the rapid deployment force to pave the way for a brigade-sized multinational force to help Mozambique suppress the insurgency in its northern Cabo Delgado province.

However, South African Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula indicated that the full brigade might not be deployed, during a briefing to a parliamentary committee on 18 July. She said the rapid deployment force would gather information and identify problems for the deployment of the rest of the force “should it be needed”, according The Citizen newspaper.

Mapisa-Nqakula has confirmed that Botswana will provide troops to the SADC force, while Zimbabwe has reportedly put troops on standby. No other contributors have been confirmed yet and a spokesman for the Malawi Defence Force said on 15 July it had “no plans to deploy troops to Mozambique as of now”.

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