from ARIMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – PROSPECTS of a solution to the deepening insurgency in Mozambique rests on the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC’s) unmatched record of conflict resolution.
Conversely, the skirmishes perpetrated by Islamists in the northern parts of the former present another litmus test to the African Union’s (AU’s) continent-wide Silencing the Guns by 2020 campaign.
After months being treated as a domestic issue that Mozambique could deal with, the insurgency in the Cabo Delgado Province assumed another regional dimension when four SADC leaders met in the Zimbabwean capital Harare to discuss the increasing threat to civilians.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, the head of SADC’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, chaired the meeting that was also attended by Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi, Botswana’s MokgweetsiMasisi and Edgar Lungu of Zambia.
Nyusi requested the meeting as the insurgents continued their attacks that have left more than 600 people dead since October 2017. Over 115 000 civilians have been displaced during the estimated 350 attacks.
Last week’s meeting came weeks after Mnangagwa and Nyusi met in the western city of Chimoio in Mozambique.
The leaders from the two neighbouring countries acknowledged the escalating instability in Mozambique.
According to analysts, that meeting, and the one held in Harare was an acknowledgment by Mozambique that the Islamist terror was now more than a domestic issue.
“It is also an admission that this is a threat to peace in a region that is hailed as the most peaceful in the entire African continent,” a political commentator told CAJ News Africa in Mozambique.
He said if left unabated, the impact of terror could be felt in the landlocked countries in the region, which relied on the harbor in Mozambique’s Port of Beira for trade.
“The Cabo Delgado, where the attacks are most severe, is also the latest frontier oil and gas frontier and its full exploration and utilisation would be a boost for SADC and the continent,” the analyst added.
Commentator, AlmiroMarcelino, expressed hope the intervention of the 16-member SADC would alleviate the crisis.
“SADC is a beacon of peace in a continent synonymous with conflict,” he said.
Marcelino pointed out SADC’s peacebuilding initiatives had thwarted political tensions in countries including Lesotho, Madagascar and Zimbabwe.
“It cannot be that Mozambique is an island of conflict in a sea of peace,” the commentator added.
Marcelino stated that while SADC had managed to maintain peace over the years, “AU’s campaign to silence the guns has experienced mixed fortunes.”
“While the South African president (Cyril Ramaphosa) was not among the leaders in Harare to resolve the Mozambique crisis, he is expected to play a role in the resolution to the crisis in Mozambique in line with the policy of the AU, which he chairs,” said the commentator.
Zenaida Machado, Africa Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said SADC should immediately act to support the Mozambican authorities by providing humanitarian aid to the affected populations and training for security forces tasked with protecting people in Cabo Delgado and elsewhere in the country.
Mnangagwa pledged SADC’s solidarity with Mozambique against the jihadists perpetrating the reign of terror.
“The has assumed greater proportions and now becoming increasingly complex,” Mnangagwa added.
– CAJ News