An extraordinary Southern African Development Community (SADC) organ summit on Mozambique scheduled for today (Thursday, 29 April) is on hold with no indication from the regional bloc as to when it will take place.
The summit, officially the Extraordinary Organ Troika Summit plus Mozambique, would have seen Southern African presidents serving on SADC’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security meet in Maputo. The sole agenda item is to receive a report from the technical assessment team the regional bloc mandated to assess how countries neighbouring Mozambique can assist in countering the Islamist insurgency in Cabo Delgado.
A SADC statement has it postponement of the summit is because Organ chair Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi is “currently in quarantine” after being in contact with a COVID-19 patient. Incoming Organ chair, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, is “committed elsewhere”. The “elsewhere” SADC refers to is his appearance at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry where South Africa’s first citizen is being led through evidence in his capacity as president of the ruling ANC (African National Congress) and as President of South Africa.
The technical assessment team was constituted and deployed to Mozambique after the SADC Extraordinary Double Troika Summit on 8 April in Maputo.
It is reported that agreement was apparently reached by SADC ministers to deploy a just on three thousand strong regional rapid response force to Mozambique’s troubled north. Again, according to reports with no official confirmation from SADC, the technical assessment team recommended deployment of a force to “combat and neutralise” insurgents and retake territory, including villages, the town of Palma and the port of Mocimboa da Praia.
South African online publication Daily Maverick reports the planned force for Mozambique would comprise three light infantry battalions of 620 soldiers each plus two Special Force squadrons of 70 troops each. Also included are an unnamed number of attack and other helicopters as well as patrol ships, a submarine and a maritime aircraft to patrol the Cabo Delgado coast. The maritime part of the deployment is reportedly to intercept supplies for the insurgents and combat criminal trafficking, believed to be a source of financing for the insurgency.