Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has warned that the Islamist insurgency in Mozambique could spread to neighbouring Southern African Development Community (SADC) states.
She was answering a parliamentary question for written reply by Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Mimmy Gondwe, who asked if Defence Intelligence can confirm that there is an increase of Islamic insurgency activities currently in the province of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, and if this has the potential to spread to other provinces and neighbouring Southern African Development Community states.
Mapisa-Nqakula confirmed, in her reply published on 15 June, that Defence Intelligence has found an increase in insurgency activities.
“As the Islamic insurgency activities may affect some SADC states, the regional political and military approach has been recommended and to this effect plans are in place to discuss and concretize the approach,” the Minister stated.
The SADC in May urged its members to support Mozambique in efforts to overcome “terrorists and armed groups” in Cabo Delgado.
During a meeting of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) earlier this month, Mapisa-Nqakula is reported to have said “deployment of (South African) Special Forces to Mozambique will only be discussed behind closed doors”.
“There are challenges with Mozambique,” the minister is reported by News24 as saying. “Whether Mozambique asked for help is another matter.”
News agency reports last month have South African international relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor said her country was “in talks” with Mozambique about assistance.
At the same time a SADC communique following an “extraordinary organ troika (on politics, defence and security co-operation)” in Harare called on the bloc to support Mozambique in its fight against terrorists and armed groups. It also condemned terrorist and other armed attacks as per the SADC declaration on terrorism and the AU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism.
Attacks by Ansar al-Sunna, now identified as part of Islamic State, have claimed over a thousand lives in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique’s northernmost province and the site of a major offshore gas find. There have also been reports of private military contractors (PMCs) involved in fighting the insurgents.