By BLESSINGS MASHAYA
ZIMBABWE’S DEFENCE minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri says the country’s troops are ready for deployment in neighbouring Mozambique, facing terror from Islamic extremists Isis in Cabo Delgado Province.
More than 2 000 people have died in the region so far.
Speaking in the Senate this week, Muchinguri-Kashiri said the deployment of Zimbabwean soldiers there under the banner of Sadc would happen once Parliament gave the nod for the mission.
“When the leaders sat at a (Sadc) summit, they agreed that the war in Mozambique involves us as Zimbabwe and we should also make our little contribution in various forms.
“So, as Zimbabwe we are not going to be left behind in committing ourselves so as to ensure that we work together with all other countries. Some countries are offering to train marines for those that have marine forces and the ocean.
“We are renowned in the region for our Air Force and … guerrilla warfare,” Muchinguri-Kashiri told the Senate.
“We are busy putting up what we are best at … Once we commit ourselves, His Excellency (President Emmerson Mnangagwa) will come to … seek the approval of Parliament that we are now going to be involved in such an engagement.
“Once we have reached such a stage, you will see the minister coming to request for authority for us to go into Mozambique,” she added.
The violent insurgency in Mozambique has caused the deaths of more than 2 000 people, mostly civilians, with about 400 000 people having been displaced — raising fears of an influx of refugees into Zimbabwe, Tanzania and South Africa.
Muchinguri-Kashiri, who is also Zanu PF national chairperson, also told the Senate that the Mozambican government had been fighting the insurgents for close to three years, before the situation attracted the attention of Sadc.
“The Mozambique issue has been there for a long time. I would want to believe that we are all aware that this has been going on for three years.
“Initially it was not in the public domain as to what exactly was happening and who was involved, up until Mozambique on its own informed Sadc that they have problems with terrorists,” she said further.
Muchinguri-Kashiri also said it was in the interest of Zimbabwe to take part in the fight against the Islamic insurgency because the bandits were also threatening the country’s economic lifeline.
“Our goods pass through the Mozambique Ocean. There is also piracy in that they intercept ships that carry economic goods to and from the country.
“As Zimbabwe, we are quite disturbed about such action because Mozambique is the lifeline to Zimbabwe since we are landlocked.
“Such disturbances threaten our economy because we want our economy to be a middle income economy by 2030 so that the lives of our people are improved.
“We receive our fuel from Mozambique, and… not only does it serve Zimbabwe, but it also serves other landlocked countries whose goods also pass through Zimbabwe,” Muchinguri-Kashiri also told the Senate.
Last month Sadc countries approved the deployment of forces to Mozambique to deal with the IS-linked jihadists in the northern Cabo Delgado Province.
In April this year, the insurgents ran amok in the coastal town of Palma where their barbaric attacks on civilians claimed several lives, including that of a Zimbabwean who was employed there.
The 38-year-old man, Nyasha Mugwagwa, was working as a catering manager for Remote Site Solutions — one of the contracted companies at the multibillion-dollar gas projects being built in the area by France’s Total and other energy companies.
Mugwagwa, a former Cresta Hotels employee, moved to Mozambique about five years ago.
He later married a Mozambican woman in the town of Beira, where he usually returned after going to work on the northern gas exploration hub for weeks at a time. – Daily News