The extraordinary double troika summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) meets in Maputo today (Thursday, 27 May) with terrorism and insecurity in Cabo Delgado seemingly the sole agenda item.
The meeting announced at 18h00 yesterday by the South African Presidency did not early today rate a mention on the regional bloc’s website.
According to a statement issued by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office, the components of the double troika are the SADC troika (chaired by Mozambique with Malawi the incoming chair and Tanzania outgoing) and the troika of the SADC politics, defence and security co-operation (chaired by Botswana with South Africa incoming chair and Zimbabwe outgoing).
Ramaphosa heads the South African delegation which includes ministers Naledi Pandor (International Relations and Co-operation), Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (Defence and Military Veterans) and Ayanda Dlodlo (State Security).
Today’s meeting in the Mozambican capital replaces one scheduled for 29 April and cancelled because Botswana president Mokgweetsiu Masisi was in COVID-19 quarantine and South Africa’s first citizen was being questioned by evidence leaders at the Zondo Commission.
Ahead of the double troika, ministers and senior officials will meet, with no indication of possible agenda items and their effect and input on the day’s main event.
Since postponement of the April meeting there has been speculation regarding deployment of a regional bloc force to South Africa’s eastern neighbour. Some reports have it the force will comprise three light infantry battalions of 620 soldiers each and two 70-strong Special Forces squadrons as the vanguard of an SADC force to “combat and neutralise” insurgents in northern Mozambique. 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 will also be part of the force. The maritime component 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. Earlier this week an international news agency quoted the international relations and co-operation minister as saying South Africa would push for military action in Mozambique.
The country faces unrest with escalations into deadly violence in its Cabo Delgado province since 2017. The unrest is led by an Islamic State linked group of insurgents. Towns, villages and coastal areas have fallen to Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jamamah (ASWJ) and seen international oil and fuel giant Total suspend operations on a major multi-billion dollar gas development off the northern Mozambique coast.