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Botswanan troops withdraw from Cabo Delgado

The BDF pulled out their troops on 5 April ahead of the planned withdrawal of all Samim forces by 15 July

Botswanan troops depart from Pemba airport. Credit: Samim

The Botswanan contingent of the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (Samim) left Cabo Delgado province on 5 April as part of the planned withdrawal of Samim forces to be completed by July.

The withdrawal of the Botswana Defence Forces (BDF) was announced by Samim in a Facebook post published on Sunday. The event was marked by a parade of Samim troops and a farewell address delivered by the Samim acting head of mission J. Shikongo Shikongo and the Samim force commander, Major-General PN Dube. 

BDF troops first arrived in Cabo Delgado alongside detachments from South Africa, Tanzania and Lesotho in July 2021. Its mission consisted of approximately 300 soldiers and it was responsible for security operations in the districts of Mueda and Muidumbe. 

Six Botswanan soldiers were reported to have died during its mission, at least two of whom committed suicide. In one incident in Pemba, a major shot dead his girlfriend, a private in the BDF, before taking his own life.

President Filipe Nyusi confirmed that Samim would complete its withdrawal by 15 July following a summit of Southern African Development Community leaders on 23 March. Mozambique’s foreign affairs minister, Veronica Macamo, has claimed that Samim is leaving because it cannot support itself financially. However, Filimão Suaze, the spokesman for the Mozambican Council of Ministers, said Samim had fulfilled its mission with regard to fighting the insurgency.

The withdrawal is going ahead despite an insurgent offensive launched in January involving coordinated attacks along the N380 highway, followed by an incursion into Cabo Delgado’s southern districts which displaced around 100,000 people. The offensive petered out by March, but insurgents still control the Macomia district coast between Mucojo and Quiterajo.

This article was produced by Zitamar News under the Cabo Ligado project, in collaboration with Mediafax and ACLED. The contents of the article are the sole responsibility of Zitamar News.