SADC leaders meet to consider action on insurgency in northern Mozambique

SANF 20 no 14 – by Kizito Sikuka 
The conflict in northern Mozambique is a setback to regional integration and development which depend on peace in the region, and SADC leaders are meeting to consider action.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ Troika of three leaders, plus Mozambique, is meeting 19 May in Harare, Zimbabwe to discuss the security situation in the Cabo Delgado Province of Mozambique.

A statement issued by the host Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said, “the purpose of the Extraordinary Troika Summit plus Mozambique is to consider the urgent security situation in Mozambique following its formal request to the regional body.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe is the current Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

The Cabo Delgado Province is under threat from some acts of extremism and terrorism, and could spread to neighbouring countries if not properly addressed.

According to the United Nations, at least 28 attacks have been recorded in the province since the beginning of 2020 with 400 people killed and about 100,000 people displaced since the beginning of the insurgency in 2017.

Various groups including those with Islamic fundamentalism, especially a group known as Ahlu Sunna Wa-Jama have claimed responsibility for some of the attacks which the Mozambican government is now describing as terrorism.

To combat the instability in the northern part of the country, Mozambique – as one of the 16 SADC Member States — has made a formal request to the regional body to help fight the insurgency, which could impact other countries in southern Africa if left unattended.

The Cabo Delgado Province, which is situated in the northernmost part of Mozambique shares its border with the United Republic of Tanzania.

The SADC Troika of the Organ is responsible for promoting peace and security in the SADC region, and is coordinated at the level of Summit, consisting of a Chairperson, Incoming Chairperson and Outgoing Chairperson, and reports to the SADC Summit.

President Mnangagwa as current Chair of the Organ is joined in the meeting by President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana (Incoming Chairperson) and Zambian President Edgar Lungu (Outgoing Chairperson).

President Felipe Nyusi of Mozambique is also attending the meeting.

There are various measures that could be discussed and taken by SADC to contain as well as address the insurgency in the Cabo Delgado Province.

These measures could include helping Mozambique with military and intelligence information to fight the insurgency since such acts of terrorism are transboundary.

Another initiative may be to provide military personnel and equipment to combat the instability.

Another option would be to deploy the SADC Standby Force.

The SADC Standby Force, or Brigade, was established through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the SADC Heads of States and Government in Lusaka, Zambia in 2007.

The SADC Standby Force operates as a tool of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and receives its direction and guidance from the SADC Committee of Chiefs of Defence staff and the Committee of SADC Police Chiefs to provide peace-building efforts in the region.

These peace-building efforts include post-conflict disarmament and demobilisation and humanitarian assistance in conflict areas and areas impacted by major natural disasters such as drought and floods.

The SADC Standby Force is made up of a multidisciplinary contingents of the Military, Police and Civilian who are stationed in their countries of origin and ready for deployment as and when necessary.

Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region. 

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