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Zimbabwe to Deploy At Least 300 Soldiers in Mozambique to Train Battalion to Fight Islamic State Insurgents

FILE: Armed soldiers stand by an armored vehicle on the road leading to President Robert Mugabe's office in Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 15, 2017.
FILE: Armed soldiers stand by an armored vehicle on the road leading to President Robert Mugabe's office in Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov. 15, 2017.

Zimbabwe is planning to send more than 300 soldiers to Mozambique to train a battalion, which will fight against an Islamic State-linked insurgency.

According to the state-controlled Herald newspaper, Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri told reporters in Harare today that the soldiers will consist of 303 trainers and one specialist officer, who is expected to be based at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Force Headquarters in the country’s capital city, Maputo.

Kashiri is quoted by the newspapers as saying parliament would be informed about the planned deployment of the soldiers in accordance with some provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Section 214 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe stipulates that “when the Defence Forces are deployed in Zimbabwe to assist in the maintenance of public order or outside Zimbabwe; the President must cause Parliament to be informed, promptly and in appropriate detail, of the reasons for their deployment and where they are deployed in Zimbabwe, the place where they are deployed; where they are deployed outside Zimbabwe, the country in which they are deployed.”

Reuters reports that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorized the use of 1,495 members of the military to help Mozambique fight the Islamic State-linked insurgency.

The use of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) comes after southern African regional bloc SADC last month approved the deployment of troops to Mozambique to combat a conflict which began in 2017 and has killed thousands.

Ramaphosa said the SANDF personnel would be used between July 15 and October 15 at an expected cost of 984 million rand ($66.3 million), a letter sent to the speaker of parliament showed.

In the letter. Ramaphosa referred specifically to authorizing the employment of SANDF members and did not spell out how many of those would be soldiers deployed on Mozambican soil.

The conflict in Mozambique's northern Cabo Delgado province has displaced hundreds of thousands and brought a natural gas project led by French energy company Total Energies to a grinding halt.

At the time SADC nations authorized the deployment of the bloc's standby force, they did not say how many troops would be involved.

Ramaphosa's letter said South Africa's military would help Mozambique combat "acts of terrorism and violent extremists that affected the area of Cabo Delgado." (Reporting for Reuters - Alexander Winning; Editing by Nick Macfie)