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Most Samim regional forces withdraw from Cabo Delgado

South Africa and Lesotho's troops have now left Cabo Delgado province as part of the Southern African Development Community's Mission in Mozambique (Samim) scheduled withdrawal, which is now almost complete

South African and Lesotho troops fighting Islamic State-backed insurgents in Cabo Delgado province have mounted farewell parades, marking the withdrawal of most of the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (Samim).

The exit of South African and Lesotho troops follows the withdrawal of Botswanan forces on 5 April. The only remaining Samim partner with troops on the ground is Tanzania, which has a separate bilateral security arrangement with Mozambique that may continue beyond the official conclusion of Samim on 15 July.

South Africa was the single largest contributor to Samim, sending about 1,500 troops to Cabo Delgado. They were mostly responsible for security operations in Macomia district, one of the main hotbeds of insurgent activity.

The South African farewell parade took place on 7 April and was attended by Samim acting head of mission J. Shikongo Shikongo, Samim force commander Major-General P.N. Dube, and Rear Admiral Muatuca and Brigadier-General T.E. Paumbile of the Mozambican Armed Defence Forces. 

The Mozambican government is planning to compensate for the Samim withdrawal by receiving more Rwandan security forces in Mozambique and reinforcing local militias.

Shikongo Shikongo commended South African forces for “a distinguished tour of duty,” according to a Samim statement published on Facebook.

The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) based in the northern district of Nangade held its farewell parade on 14 April, a local source told Zitamar News. Lesotho contributed around 70 troops to Samim. Nangade was once the location of a major insurgent base but there has been very little fighting in the district since the end of 2022. 

Nangade district administrator Matias Constantino thanked Samim soldiers for their sacrifice but noted that the insurgency was still active and that Mozambique must not relax its efforts to fight the enemy.

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.