Last month’s escalation in violence in northern Mozambique appears to have sparked the sub-continent’s regional bloc into action with no less than six Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders due to meet in Maputo this week.
The SADC troika (Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania) will meet in the Mozambican capital at the same time as the bloc’s security organ, under the chairmanship of Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, gathers to “deliberate on measures to address terrorism”.
The meetings come over seven months after the Pretoria-headquartered Institute for Security Studies (ISS) warned SADC and the African Union assistance was needed in South Africa’s eastern neighbour.
President Cyril Ramaphosa will on 8 April attend the Extraordinary Double Troika Summit of Heads of State and Government of SADC in Maputo.
SADC is concerned about continued terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado, especially for the lives and welfare of residents who continue to suffer from atrocious, brutal and indiscriminate assaults, South Africa’s Presidency said in a statement.
The Summit is preceded by meetings of senior officials and ministers.
Ramaphosa will be accompanied by Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Minister of State Security Ayanda Dlodlo.
Jasmine Opperman, Africa Analyst at the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), said the Extraordinary Double Troika Summit is of “vast significance” as it will examine an obscure threat, the Iraqification (militarisation and foreign agendas) of Mozambique and SADC’s own role in regional politics.
In a clarion call to SADC ahead of the Maputo meetings, Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow defence and military veterans minister Kobus Marais is adamant military intervention in Cabo Delgado must be the top agenda item.
“Following the bloodshed in Palma, which claimed the life of a South African and trapped others in the area, military intervention is the only possible step to stop violence and restore security,” he said in a statement adding it was “unrealistic and unaffordable” for South Africa to do it unilaterally.
“Co-operation between forces from SADC member states will be critical to ensuring peace in Mozambique and the southern African region as a whole.”
To make this reality, Marais called on the South African delegation to Mozambique to push for “a troop surge” from all 16 SADC countries. “Heads of State must use this opportunity to finalise deployment of SADC forces,” he said.
South Africa cannot pay for the deployment because “it does not have the money or the capacity” and the regional grouping should seek wider support from Europe and the US. This approach, Marais maintains, will see much-needed additional funding and military equipment boost any SADC multi-national force deployed in Mozambique.
“Such a force will be able to engage in a rapid combat intervention to stop the insurgency in Mozambique.
“SADC is mandated and authorised to prevent destabilisation of the southern African region and it needs to intervene now to save Mozambique and ensure continued stability,” he said.