Mutare — ZIMBABWE is closely monitoring the unfolding armed conflict in neighbouring Mozambique, but a possible military intervention will only be guided by the collective SADC Troika decision, Minister of Defence Hon Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said.
This comes as armed attacks by extremist militant groups in Mozambique's oil-rich Cabo Delgado Province have increased this year. It also comes as the insurgents calling themselves "Al-Shabaab" have moved into Tanzania leaving a trail of destruction.
The attacks in Mozambique, which have displaced more than 300 000 people have claimed more than 2 000 lives.
In an interview on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) strategic planning workshop at Montclair Hotel in Nyanga on Wednesday Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said Zimbabwe is greatly concerned with the unravelling situation.
"We are really worried with the situation prevailing in Mozambique, particularly in the Cabo Delgado region. The situation is no longer affecting Mozambique only.
"It means there is provocation already on another SADC country and that is worrisome to Zimbabwe because Mozambique is our lifeline.
"At the last SADC Summit, there was nothing quite tangible that came out and we are seeing Mozambique now approaching countries like the United States of America and France for assistance. We do not know how far they have gone in that direction," she said.
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri added that Mozambique is crucial for Zimbabwe as it offers not only an arterial route into the seas, but also a critical oil pipeline.
"Mozambique is in SADC and it is our problem in the SADC region. Therefore, it is very, very important that we take ownership of what is happening in our region because an attack on a SADC member State is an attack on all of us as a bloc.
"Mozambique is our lifeline because it is our gateway to the sea. For all our goods, either rail or road, we use Mozambique because we are landlocked. It is in our best interest that SADC moves in quickly to address the situation. We need to find a lasting solution to this challenge," she said.
She said the country stands guided by its SADC counterparts' decision on intervention.
"You need to appreciate that our intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo war resulted in the imposition of the economic sanctions that are affecting us.
"As a region, we agreed that it should not just be a few countries that take part in regional security issues.
"Whatever happens, the region through the Troika organ on Politics, Defence and Security must come up with strategies so that decisions are made at that level. Collectively we are stronger," she said.