The Guardian 26 September, 2007

Southern Africa says "No"
to US military bases in region

Isdore Guvamombe

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has taken a stand against US plans to establish a permanent military presence in the region, after having been already snubbed by North and West Africa.

The SADC is an inter-govern­mental organisation which furthers socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among 15 southern African countries and includes South Africa, Mozam­bique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola.

American foreign policy has attracted the retaliatory attacks the Americans call "terrorism" following its efforts to effect illegal regime change in over 50 countries in addition to invading 35 others in 56 years.

It is for this reason the SADC countries have decided to block US attempts to establish a base for the American African Force, (Africom) to be permanently resident in Africa.

The American African Force is a new unified combatant command of the US Department of Defense to be operational by September 2008. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld formed a planning team in 2006.

The South African Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said "There is a certain sense in the countries of our region (SADC) that if there was to be an influx of armed forces into one or the other of our countries, that might affect the relations between the sister countries, and not encourage an atmosphere of security.

"At the interstate defence and security committee meeting held in Dar es Salaam [in Tanzania], SADC defence and security ministers took a position and recommended that sister countries of the region should not agree to host Africom [and] in particular, to host US armed forces."

It is reported that when US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice hosted Mozambican President Amando Guebuza in mid-July, she dangled the carrot of humanitarian aid to try to entice Mozambique to accede to militarisation of the region. Washington released US$500 million, as humanitarian aid to entice Mozambique.

Mozambique is strategic in that it has a vast coastal area, an ideal play ground for US marines and warships, and has huge untapped natural resources, which can be used to the advantage of the Americans.

But the SADC countries decided that an American military base would not bring any good tidings as it could either lead to accelerated exploitation of natural resources or destabilisation of the region. It remains to be seen whether Mozambique will fall for Bush’s tricks.

Isdore Guvamombe writes for The Herald (Zimbabwe)

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