Source: The Guardian/IPP Media
President Jakaya Kikwete & Vice President Dr Mohammed Bilal look on as Defence & National Service minister Dr Hussein Mwinyi (C) & his Mozambican & South African counterparts, Filipe
The governments of Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa yesterday signed a tripartite pact to strengthen maritime security in Indian Ocean and fight piracy.
The inking of the agreement done by Tanzania Defence and National Service minister Dr Hussein Mwinyi and South African Defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu, and Mozambican National Defence minister Filipe Jacinto Nyussi was witnessed by President Jakaya Kikwete.
Speaking at the signing ceremony President Kikwete promised to assist the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces in taking part in the joint efforts course.
“We are going to take all measures to keep our sea safe because more than 90 percent of our trade usea the ocean route….At first we thought that the problem was confined only to the Horn of Africa, but now it has extended to the Southern part of the Indian Ocean,” President Kikwete said.
The President commended South Africa and Mozambique accepting to cooperate with Tanzania in fighting the menace which is threatening the economies of the countries and beyond.
For his part, Defence and National Service minister Dr Hussein Mwinyi said the aim of the MoU is to strengthen cooperation between armed forces of the three countries in carrying out the war against piracy.
Mwinyi said the cooperation will focus on joint military exercises, information sharing and surveillance conducting.
“Maritime piracy is becoming a big security concern and if not thoroughly addressed it might have larger negative impacts in social, political and economic areas,” Dr Mwinyi said.
In 2010 there were 29 incidents of piracy in Tanzania which came down to nine in 2011 after intervention.
Piracy is a threat to the economy of the regional countries as it has resulted into increased transport costs, hiked fuel prices, bigger insurance bills, among others, he said.
He further said that the initiative to counter piracy needs concerted efforts, adding that no country can address the problem in isolation.
The signing of the MoU will cement the historic relations between the three countries, Dr Mwinyi said.
Mozambican National Defence minister Filipe Jacinto Nyissu said the pact will help the three armed forces cooperate to ensure that the Indian Ocean coast remains a crime free area.
The MoU, he said, will help the three nations to have a common platform to avert the situation from becoming bad.
Nyissu said Mozambique recorded one piracy incident in 2010, but assured that with the acquisition of modern equipment fighting the peril would be easy.
“Our aim is to ensure that our countries are protected, thus we cannot just sit back and only complain that we don’t have tools to fight piracy,” Nyissu said.
South African Defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu said agreement is an important step and an indicator of how far the three countries have come into their relationship.
‘The cost of piracy to us is difficult to measure as it affects our economies,” she said.
Tanzania’s Navy Commander Major General Said Omar said the MoU aims at boosting cooperation between the three countries in a move to strengthen maritime security.
“This problem cannot be addressed by a single country …we must cooperate to ensure that our sea is not controlled by pirates,” he said.
By Lydia Shekighenda