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China to supply military hardware to SADC’s forces in Mozambique

Part of a Chinese donation of military equipment to the African Union will be delivered straight to the SADC mission in northern Mozambique later this year

The military force deployed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Cabo Delgado is in line to receive “substantial” Chinese military aid to help fight the insurgency in Cabo Delgado, thanks to a decision by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC).

At a meeting on 31 January, the PSC decided that part of a donation of military hardware from China to the African Union (AU) should go to support the Southern African Development Community’s Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM). It is due to be delivered directly to SAMIM at the Mozambican port of Nacala this year.

The PSC resolution also welcomed the contribution of a Rwandan deployment to Cabo Delgado, “in the spirit of African solution to African problems,” and called on AU members and partners to support the efforts of Rwanda in coordination with the SAMIM in Mozambique.

Rwanda has asked the European Union (EU) for financial support for its mission, and the PSC also called on the EU, as well as the United Nations (UN), and the broader international community, to support SAMIM and Mozambique “through the provision of the requisite materials, technical and financial resources.” It also directed the AU’s Commission to lobby the EU to provide funding for SAMIM.

The EU and the US are providing training to Mozambique’s military, but are not engaging directly with the fight in the north of the country. On 3 February, the Commander of the US Africa Command, General Stephen Townsend, described the SAMIM and Rwandan missions as “exactly the kind of solutions that the United States likes to see: solutions led by African partners, buttressed by other international partners, and supported by the United States where we can lend a hand."

Admiral Herve Blejean, the head of the EU’s military staff, told the European Parliament last week that Rwanda had submitted a formal request to the EU to fund its mission in Cabo Delgado, which the EU’s chief diplomat, Josep Borrell, is “determined to respond favourably” to. He told European politicians to be wary of the potential for Russian involvement in the conflict, noting that Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi had recently talked about renewed cooperation with Russia in the security sector.

Chinese Tigers

The military aid is being donated to the AU as part of a framework of cooperation on peace and security. In November 2012, the Chinese government and the African Union Commission signed an agreement and protocol under which China pledged to provide $12,800,000 to cover logistical support for AU peacekeeping missions.

In July 2018, the AU’s African Standby Force (ASF) received a donation of military equipment which was followed in May 2020 by two additional agreements pledging further donations of equipment, including training and after-delivery services.

The type of equipment that will be provided to SAMIM has not been published. In 2014 and 2018 China sent shipments of Shaanxi Baoji ‘Tiger’ 4x4 armoured personnel carriers to Mozambique.

At its 31 January meeting, the PSC also instructed the AU Commission to provide unspecified military equipment from the AU Continental Logistics Base in Cameroon and to “assist in mobilizing financial resources to support the building up of the operational capacity of the Mozambican Defence and Security Forces (FDS) in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.”

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi travelled to Addis Ababa today for an AU conference this weekend, where “peace and security” is on the agenda.

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