A hundred plus page report by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime (GITOC) finds, among others, factors which led to the insurgency in northern Mozambique five years ago are still in evidence today as a multi-national force battles to contain ASWJ (Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah) insurgents.
The report titled “Insurgency, illicit markets and corruption” with the sub-title “The Cabo Delgado conflict and its regional implications” is the outcome of four peoples’ efforts and research on the southern African hotspot. It was sponsored by Germany’s Hanns Seidel Foundation.
The authors note as one of six key takeaways factors behind the start of the ASWJ insurgency in 2017 including the breakdown in governance and delivery of government services, socio-economic exclusion, rampant corruption and organised crime, elite capture of resources as well as ethnic and religious divides are still to be found in the northern part of the southern African country.
They also point out the insurgency is “evolving”.
“While Rwandan and Southern African Development Community (SADC) intervention helped Mozambican forces recapture territory, the conflict continues, resurged in parts of Cabo Delgado and spread to other provinces. Insurgents re-established their connection with Islamic State, as suggested by IS propaganda around recent attacks,” the GITOC report states.
Trafficking, mainly drugs but also arms, ammunition and to a lesser extent, people and the routes used by traffickers in northern Mozambique are “resilient” and “adapted to the new security situation”. This saw routes move from areas where insurgents hold territory and “conflict is most intense”. The report gives the example of drug trafficking where routes moved south to and through southern Cabo Delgado and Nampula away from conflict hotspots.
The report has it Islamist extremist networks in South Africa are not widespread and do not appear to have many links to the northern Mozambique insurgency with the rider it could change. This can occur if the “regional threat changes” because South Africa’s” key institutions to monitor and prosecute extremism are weak”.
The report makes four recommendations for regional bloc SADC. They are: to collaborate on regional threats and improve intelligence-sharing; assist Mozambique with its humanitarian crisis as well as support the country to change “security force culture and management” to improve the civil/military relationship. The authors suggest SADC “act as a regional watchdog for human rights abuses, transparency and corruption”.
The Mozambican government is urged to tackle corruption drivers, ensure stability and “improve trust between state and local populations” by, as an example, bringing local civil society and community leaders into governance roles. President Filipe Nyusi should “professionalise law enforcement agencies into organisations that protect and serve all citizens” with reforms focussing on improving trust between the local population and the state.
As far as involvement of the wider international community in Mozambique is concerned, the report wants a focus on support processes that strengthen local governance systems and build institutions resilient to corruption, are more transparent and expose and prosecute all human rights abuses.
It wants continued bi- and multilateral support to military and police training missions embedded in a joint strategy to strengthen leadership and professionalism.
“Preconditions must include a clear commitment by the Mozambican government to reform the security cluster toward professional, effective and service oriented law enforcement agencies.”
Mozambican civil society is not left out of report’s recommendations and has “a critical role”. This includes ongoing monitoring, reporting on human rights abuses and conducting research in “challenging circumstances and at great personal risk”.