Southern African Leaders Close Ranks against Armed Insurgents in Mozambique
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has called on member states to back Mozambique which is battling an insurgency likely to pose a big security threat to the region.
The decision was arrived at during an urgent extraordinary summit of the troika on SADC organ on politics, defense, and security that was held at the statehouse in Zimbabwe on Tuesday May 19.
The heads of state in attendance agreed to support Mozambique but did not say if they would be sending soldiers into the country.
The meeting which was held at the behest of Mozambique was officially opened by the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa who is also the Chairperson of the SADC organ on politics, defense, and security.
The meeting saw the presence of Mozambican President, Filipe Nyuse, Botswana’s Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, and Zambia’s Edgar Lungu.
At the start of the meeting, Mr. Mnangagwa said the insurgency in northeast Mozambique was becoming a huge threat to security in southern Africa.
“The modus operandi of the terrorist groups and their networks are intricate and elaborate,” he said, emphasizing that radicalization and terrorism is a worrying situation for peace, security, and development in the region.
Zimbabwean Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo who read the SADC communiqué after the meeting said the situation of terrorism and armed attacks in Cabo Delgado Province, in Mozambique, was an area of concern.
Mozambique has been struggling to contain an insurgency of militants that have ties to the Islamic State and who began attacking villages in the northeast in late 2017. They have since overrun towns close to an area in which companies including Total SA and Exxon Mobil Corp are developing liquefied natural gas projects worth almost $60 billion.
President Nyusi gave a briefing on the situation in Mozambique and welcomed the decision by the government of the Republic of Mozambique to bring to the attention of SADC the security situation in the country.
The leaders condemned the armed attacks and acts of sabotage perpetrated by terrorists and armed groups in some districts of Cabo Delgado Province. They reiterated SADC’s position that condemns all acts of terrorism and armed attacks wherever they occur as contained in the SADC Declaration on Terrorism and the AU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism.
To arrest the situation from degenerating, the organ committed and urged SADC member states to support the government of Mozambique in fighting against the terrorists and armed groups in some districts of Cabo Delgado.
The extraordinary organ troika summit emphasized that SADC will continue to cooperate regionally and globally in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic to protect SADC citizens and sustain livelihoods. To this effect, they commended SADC citizens and global partners who are at the forefront in the fight to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Botswana's President Masisi will go into his third quarantine upon returning home, his government announced. Masisi’s spokesperson Batlhalefi Leagang confirmed this move.
Leagang in a statement said the circumstances had forced the meeting to be held face-to-face despite the Covid-19 pandemic which has spurred virtual meetings worldwide.
“IT, security and defense experts had advised the President that the meeting should be face-to-face in light of the sensitivity of the issues discussed,” he said in a statement.
Mr. Masisi was first quarantined on March 21 after he attended the inauguration of Namibian President, Hage Geingob. He went through another quarantine on April 9 after a nurse who screened Members of Parliament at a special sitting to debate the state of emergency tested positive for Covid-19. In both instances, his test results were negative for the virus.