THE Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) has reportedly put on standby its contingent of troops to be deployed in conflict-torn Mozambique as government finalises modalities, NewZimbabwe.com can reveal.
The Zimbabwean soldiers, drawn from the elite fighting regiments, will join other SADC regional troops in a standing army meant to quell insurgency in the neighbouring country.
This follows revelations that Foreign Affairs minister Frederick Shava reported to cabinet during the weekly Tuesday meeting this week that all issues that were holding up their deployment have been ironed out.
Military sources told NewZimbabwe.com Wednesday they received a radio communication advising them that they were now on standby and should await deployment orders.
“It looks like the news of their departure leaked before they were personally informed because there was just a radio communication that all those identified should be on standby,” a source said.
Shava, according to official sources, reported to his cabinet colleagues that the road was now clear for military deployment in Mozambique.
“Shava told us that what had delayed the deployment was the fact that Mozambique had not signed the Status of Forces Agreement needed to allow army troops from a foreign country to join a local mission in line with international law. But now it has been signed and it’s all systems go,” the source said.
“If it is not signed, it actually prevents the entire region from deployment.”
Shava was part of the regional body of the 16-nation SADC states technical team sent to verify events there and advise its heads of state forum on the way forward.
The technical team recommended that SADC deploys a 3 000-strong robust intervention force comprised of land, air and naval assets to help quell the insurgency.
Subsequently, at an extraordinary summit late last month, SADC heads of state resolved to deploy.
Islamic insurgents have over the past four years launched deadly raids in Mozambique’s oil and gas-rich Northern province of Cabo Delgado, killing at least 2 000 people and displacing nearly one million. – Newzim