South Africa, in the form of its State Security Agency (SSA) is taking reported threats against it by an ISIS affiliate active in Mozambique seriously, according to Minister Ayanda Dlodlo.
She told News24 South Africa cannot walk away from threats against its sovereignty adding her department opted to “err on the side of caution” as regards reported threats in an ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) newsletter, Al-Naba, apparently warning South Africa not to become involved in the conflict in the northern Mozambique. This is where work is underway on exploiting massive offshore gas fields. Ansar al-Sunna, identified as a component of IS, is at the helm of the insurgency, believed to originate in Malawi and Tanzania.
The Arabic newsletter reports European countries and the US want to convince South Africa to lead the war in Mozambique concentrated in the Cabo Delgado province. Fighting is reportedly taking place under the banner of Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaah, an organisation linked to ISIS, also known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also Islamic State (IS) and by its Arabic-language acronym Daesh.
Violence in the province started almost three years ago with an escalation in attacks in recent months.
The South African digital news site reports Dlodlo saying the ISIS threat is being taken seriously.
“Threats like that are not idle in themselves. We will not take them as idle threats. We have a responsibility to secure our people,” she said adding South Africa could not “simply walk away” from threats against its sovereignty.
Previously, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told Parliament discussions regarding possible deployment of SA National Defence Force (SANDF) elements to the northern parts of South Africa’s eastern neighbour would be “behind closed doors”.
At the same time, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) urged its 16 member states to support the east African country in efforts to overcome “terrorists and armed groups” in Cabo Delgado.
Open source information site Babel Beacon noted this month “Increased insurgent violence and a growing infection rate of COVID-19 pose serious challenges to Mozambique over the immediate and longer terms. As both continue, a humanitarian crisis and a failure of basic services in the region becomes more likely – jeopardising much needed foreign investment that may prove critical to Mozambique weathering its multiple challenges”.
As far as can be ascertained questions posed to both Dlodlo and Mapisa-Nqakula by Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow ministers Mommy Gondwe (State Security) and Kobus Marais (Defence and Military Veterans) have not yet been responded to.
The questions relate to the insurgency in Cabo Delgado province, whether it is becoming more “sophisticated, co-ordinated and militant”; and whether it would not be better for South African soldiers to assist in bringing peace to Mozambique rather than be “on the streets” enforcing lockdown regulations.
“They would be better employed in service of the SANDF’s constitutional mandate working toward regional stability and safeguarding our borders, among others,” Marais said earlier this month.