John Manzongo in Kariba
DEFENCE Minister Sydney Sekeramayi has underscored the need to secure Sadc coastal trade routes as 80 percent of the region is dependent on them for business.
Officially closing a month-long Sadc Special Forces training in Kariba yesterday, Minister Sekeramayi said the bloc has witnessed an upsurge in crimes on coastal areas.
“Southern Africa has in recent years witnessed insecurity in its coastal areas due to maritime piracy and various crimes threatening its trade along the Indian and Atlantic oceans.
“This is a serious security threat, bearing in mind that over 80 percent of our trade is water-bound.
“Maritime threats do not only threaten coastal countries but also affect inland states such as Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana,” he said.
“The exercise you were conducting was intended at developing a common regional maritime concept to enhance inter operability and the security of our inland water bodies. It was also designed to foster mutual co-operation within our sub region as it ignites the spirit that existed during the liberation struggle.”
Minister Sekeramayi said the success of the exercise was clear evidence of unity that exists between the countries.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantine Chiwenga said the exercise was aimed at ensuring peace and security and to curb piracy in high seas where there is oil theft, fish and ivory poaching.
“Our sub region is endowed with large inland water bodies such as Congo river, Zambezi, Limpopo, Chobe, Kafue, Shire, Luapula and lakes such as Tanganyika, Malawi, Mweru, Kariba, Cabora Bassa and Lesotho Highland Dam, among others, which are vulnerable to maritime security threats,” he said.
Botswana Defence Forces Deputy Commander Major-General Placid Segokgo said joint military trainings among neighbouring forces were necessary as they fostered mutual understanding and fusion of Special Forces skills.
Zambian Army Commander Lieutenant-General Paul Mihova said his army was proud to conduct joint training with its neighbours as it afforded participating countries an opportunity to collaborate and exchange skills and experiences.
The training exercise comprised 315 troops.