Zimbabwe is reportedly struggling to mobilise sufficient resources to contribute to the Southern Africa Development Committee Standing Force (SADC SF).
The force is supposed to start military operations to neutralise a deadly Islamist insurgency in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado region on Thursday.
NewZimbabwe.com reported military and official sources as saying Zimbabwe’s military does not have adequate and suitable weaponry necessary in fighting asymmetric warfare.
Under the SADC arrangement, member states are supposed to fund and equip their own combatants but following decades of economic atrophy, Zimbabwe has no money for the exercise. A source said:
There are basically three things here. First, the Ministry of Finance says there is no money at the moment to finance the operation.
Fighters who go there will require allowances that can only be paid by the government and, as we learnt from the DRC experience, this is a very expensive undertaking.
Secondly, reservations came from those in the military that we lack the necessary tools to fight asymmetric warfare like this.
Remember terrorists are different from a conventional army that fights openly. They play hide and seek.
They are mostly embedded in communities and launch coordinated and sporadic raids before retreating quickly.
There is a need for us to invest in modern technologies to successfully fight the insurgents such as drones and unmanned aerial vehicles.
We need to exploit cyberspace, but we do not have that capability at the moment.
A military source told NewZimbabwe.com that highly skilled members of special forces were sent to Mozambique to do reconnaissance work last year.
The source added that the report from the teams suggested that the best way to win the war was to use modern technologies to identify and weed out the terrorists.
The publication’s efforts to get a comment from Treasury were fruitless as both Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube and his permanent secretary George Guvamatanga were not available for comment.
Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri’s mobile phone was being answered by one of her aides who said she was attending meetings.
SADC last month resolved to deploy troops to combat Islamic insurgents in Mozambique.
The four-year-old insurgency has resulted in the death of at least 2 000 people and the displacement of nearly one million.
Zimbabwe is expected to volunteer troops for the strong 3 000-fighter regional force.