While SADC met in Maputo, Zimbabwe relayed back the issue of sanctions to the Americans
By Digital Sunday Express
While SADC resolved to deploy a technical team to deal with the insurgency in the north of Mozambique, it emerged this week that Zimbabwe was playing a tight card game with the United States of America over the request to deploy Zimbabwean ground forces in the distabilised regions.
Three weeks ago the United States military sent a cable to the government of Zimbabwe, and requested that the Zimbabwe National Army ground force(s) be deployed to the troubled Cabo Delgado province as the Islamic Jihadists threatened to over-run the province over the past months. People have been beheaded.
While the details of the request for military backup are still shrouded in military classifieds, two high level Zimbabwe government sources confirmed to Digital Sunday Express this week that the US asked Zimbabwe to help, and Zimbabwe had agreed to come in – but only on condition that the request was relayed through the Southern Africa Development Community – as happened in Maputo this week.
While SADC met in a high profile diplomatic event in Maputo – it also emerged that Zimbabwean foreign affairs officials had relayed back to the Americans that Zimbabwe had a ground force ready to deploy, but the army was reorganising logistics for the infrantry battalions, since the Western sanctions had meant that Zimbabwe is currently using Eastern-sourced military hardware, since Western lines were closed.
At least two sources confirmed the developments to Zimbabwe The Sunday Express this week – saying that relations between Zimbabwe and the US were warming up.
“No-one should underestimate what western sanctions have done to the Zimbabwe economy, and we all know that we cannot import military hardware because we are constrained by the illegal sanctions.
“But the international world knows that the Zimbabwe National Army has got the best ground force(s) in the region, perhaps in Southern Africa. ZNA has been in Mozambique before, andwe have experience from the DRC and peace keeping missions on the continent.
“So we went back after the request for military deployment was sent to Harare, and we said that we will only intervene at the level that was requested, but only through a SADC alliance.
“Now that SADC has agreed to send a technical task force on the gound, we went back to the Americans and reminded them of the matter of sanctions.
“Already we are peparing to rejoin the Commonwealth (see above), and we are making strides in terms of Zimbabwe’s foreign relations in the Second Republic, through re-engagement with foreign nations.
“It is a matter that needs to be handled with caution and sensitivity, and given the urgency of the Mozambique situation, it is a matter that we may see resolution sooner, rather than later.
“Zimbabwe needs the international community, and at the same time we are ready to play our role in world affairs, but on an equal footing, not from a sanctions point of view,” said the source.
The confirmation of the Zimbabwe/US conversation came as the Digital Express Online reported this week that fifteen Mozambican pilots being trained at the Paramount Technical Training Academy at Polokwane International Airport – to fly Mi-8 Assault helicopters, in prepation for deployment, according to defenceWeb.
In the report, the Mozambique’s military will soon start using Mi-8 helicopters in the fight against insurgents in Cabo Delgado province as Dyck Advisory Group (DAG) private military contractors have their involvement reduced. This is according to Zitamar News, which reported that DAG is to end its involvement in the conflict on 6 April 2021.
A well-placed source told Zitamar that DAG’s helicopter support would come to an end on 6 April, and from then on, air support would be provided by Mozambican military helicopters recently acquired from Paramount, and flown by Mozambican pilots trained by Paramount and its partner company, Burnham Global. DAG has used Gazelle, Alouette III and Jet Ranger helicopters in Mozambique.
Zitamar sources told the news company that the Mozambican pilots would operate four Gazelle helicopters – while two Russian-made helicopters — an Mi-8 and an Mi-24 — would be operated by Ukrainian crews.
Journalist Nuno Rogeiro late last year reported that Mozambique would be getting several upgraded Mi-8/17 and Mi-24 helicopters from Paramount, fitted with weapons, sensors and other equipment.
While Mozambique has its own Mi-24 and Mi-17 helicopters, they are all understood to be grounded/unserviceable and the new acquisitions are refurbished second-hand models.
In February this year, two ex-UK Army Gazelles were seen at Nacala Airport in Mozambique in Mozambican military colours.
They were supplied by Paramount, and it is understood another four were destined to be transferred from the UK to South Africa before making their way to Mozambique or perhaps the Paramount Academy in Polokwane or another African defence force.
Africa Intelligence in December last year reported that an agreement between Mozambique and Paramount covers at least 12 Marauder armoured vehicles and four Gazelle helicopters, with the Gazelles to be delivered by February.
Fifteen Mozambican pilots were being trained at the Paramount Technical Training Academy based at Polokwane International Airport, Africa Intelligence reported. Burnham Global is also providing training in the operation of the armoured vehicles on the ground in Mozambique, according to the Daily Maverick.
On 23 February Paramount and Burnham Global announced a multimillion-dollar contract with an African government to provide a range of military training and advisory services. This country is believed to be Mozambique.
Paramount is believed to be supporting the Mozambican Ministry of Defence while DAG has been employed by the Ministry of the Interior to support police operations in Cabo Delgado.
DAG started operations in Mozambique in April 2020, and saw its contract renewed in July that year and expanded to include training ground troops, Zitamar said.
Dyck Advisory Group lost a Gazelle helicopter in April 2020, which was apparently shot down by insurgents it was targeting at the time.
Dyck’s apparently reduced presence in Mozambique comes after an Amnesty International report said DAG had fired indiscriminately on civilians while helping the government fight the insurgency.
Facebook: Zimbabwe Digital News
Zimbabwe Digital News