A Southern African Development Community (SADC) “technical, fact finding mission” is currently in landlocked eSwatini investigating and analysing unrest, while the SADC mission to Mozambique struggles to get off the ground.
The mission to eSwatini is the second regional bloc one tasked with establishing the what’s, why’s and where’s of recent large scale civil unrest in the kingdom.
Both missions carry the seal of approval of Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, in his capacity as chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.
The fact finding mission, which started this week and is scheduled to finish on 22 July, follows an earlier SADC Organ Troika Ministerial Fact Finding Mission.
The current mission, the size of which is not known, is tasked with analysing the political and security situation in eSwatini, to support the country in finding “a durable solution”.
Police fired teargas and water cannon at anti-monarchy protesters on Friday, the head of a teachers’ union said, while videos on social media showed demonstrators running away as shots rang out in the background, according to Reuters.
Campaigners organised the latest round of demonstrations after government forces quashed days of violent protests at the end of June against King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The king denies critics’ accusations of autocratic rule and of using public money in an impoverished country to fund a lavish lifestyle spread across several palaces housing him and his 15 wives.
The SADC makes no mention of developments with regard to Mozambique. The insurrection and violence in the east African country, driven by an Islamist faction with apparent ties to al Shabaab, has left thousands dead, displaced near on a million people, disrupted local economies and seen the closure of a multi-billion dollar natural gas development. It was the subject of not one – but three – SADC summits to date. A regional bloc rapid deployment force (RDF) was apparently to have gone into Mozambique this week with no indication from the regional bloc as to when it will move into the troubled northern part of the country.
South Africa was due to be part of the deployed SADC force and send troops on Thursday, but it appears all focus is now on quelling unrest internally.
Mozambique’s defence minister Jaime Neto on 15 July told Agence France Presse (AFP) that Mozambique had lodged an official request for military intervention from neighbouring countries to help quell its insurgency.
The “request for the intervention of SADC in Cabo Delgado has been formally finalised,” he said, adding that the government had sent a signed “status of forces” agreement to the 16-state Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s secretariat in Botswana’s capital on Wednesday. A status of forces agreement is necessary before forces can be deployed.
“The document has already been signed and must have arrived in Gaborone,” said the minister. He added that the SADC had already sent four officers to study the situation and work out logistics, but the timing, number of soldiers and how many will be sent by each SADC member is not yet known.
Rwanda, meanwhile, has deployed 1 000 troops to northern Mozambique under a bilateral agreement. Soldiers from Rwanda, which is not a member of SADC, would fight alongside Mozambique’s forces and SADC troops, the Rwandan government said on 9 July when the deployment began.
“The Rwandan contingent will support efforts to restore Mozambican state authority by conducting combat and security operations, as well as stabilisation and security-sector reform,” the Rwandan government said in a statement.