Insurgents being pushed back in Mozambique, Ramaphosa says

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President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as the outgoing Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, has said he is pleased with progress made in pushing back the insurgents in the Cabo Delgado area of the Republic of Mozambique.

Speaking at the conclusion of his working visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo where he was leading a South African delegation to the 42nd Ordinary Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on 16 and 17 August, Ramaphosa also said that the SADC had reaffirmed its “total commitment to supporting the people of Mozambique”.

“The pleasing thing was that the people who had fled the various areas in Cabo Delgado are now returning to their homes, with increased confidence that SADC has been helping them to bring about peace,” he said.

The SADC approved the extension of the mission in Mozambique and its related processes.

The summit elected Hakainde Hichilema, the President of the Republic of Zambia, as the incoming chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation. The SADC commended Ramaphosa “for his outstanding leadership and continued efforts to address peace and security threats during the year, notwithstanding the challenges posed by COVID 19.”

Ramaphosa handed over the one-year rotational chair of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation to Namibia’s Hage Geingob.

According to a statement released after the summit, Ramaphosa indicated he was pleased with progress made by the Southern African Development Community on a number of issues of regional importance, including the reform process in the Kingdom of Lesotho, the setting up of the SADC Logistics Centre and the anti-terrorism centre.

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, and Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thabang Makwetla, accompanied the President on the visit.

On the reform process in the Kingdom of Lesotho, Ramaphosa said he was pleased with the positive report tabled by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro. The SADC and South Africa played an important role in bringing about peace and normalcy in Lesotho, according to a Presidency statement.

Ramaphosa said he was also pleased with progress brought about by SADC in the setting up of its Logistics Centre in the Republic of Botswana that will assist the countries in the region to deal with emergency situations.

Having a dedicated logistics depot for the regional bloc’s planned standby force first saw the light of day in August 2004. That was when a decision to set up a SADC regional logistics depot (RLD) was taken at a regional bloc Heads of State and Government Summit. The RLD will be home to warehouses and workshops for materials, equipment and standby stocks allocated to the regional standby force. It will also have offices and residential components and comprehensive infrastructure including a road network; power, sewage and water as well as security.

The RLD will guarantee a rapid deployment capability for the SADC Standby Force which will facilitate SADC acting promptly to save lives and prevent crises escalating.

Ramaphosa also said he was pleased with progress made in the already operational anti-terrorism centre that is situated in the Republic of Tanzania.

“We will be able to bring around the various assistance measures when there are either situations where our armed forces needs to intervene, so there should be a good logistics depot or where there are other forms of emergency,” he remarked regarding the logistics centre.

Regarding Eswatini, the SADC will set up a team to look into the Eswatini crisis, where pro-democracy groups are calling for the abdication of King Mswati III. The SADC is setting up a fact-finding mission on Eswatini and on its decision to send a panel of elders “to go and find effective ways to deal with the situation”.

The summit “expressed concern and solidarity on the latest security developments in eastern DRC, and mandated the chair of the ministerial committee of the organ, supported by the organ troika FIB Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs), to engage the UN 4 secretary-general on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September 2022, to explore all avenues to support efforts towards improving the security situation.”

The SADC expressed concern about the continued maritime threats affecting the region, particularly the western part of the Indian Ocean.