Gaborone — SADC yesterday undertook to work on a robust regional response to the growing threat of terrorism and insurgency in parts of Mozambique, which it will put in action once finalised.
This came out at an extraordinary Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation summit in Botswana yesterday attended by President Mnangagwa and his counterparts — Presidents Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi.
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi was represented by his Defence Minister Jaime Augusto Neto at the summit, which also discussed the re-organisation of regional troops deployed in the DRC.
The extraordinary troika summit resolved to marshal a regional reaction to support Mozambique battle the bloody insurgency in its northern province of Cabo Delgado.
President Mnangagwa returned home last night after the day-long meeting.
A communiqué released after the meeting outlined the Organ Troika’s concern over growing instability in the region.
“The extraordinary Organ Troika summit noted with concern, the acts of terrorism in the region, particularly in Cabo Delgado province of the Republic of Mozambique, and expressed continued Sadc solidarity with Mozambique,” reads the communiqué.
“The extraordinary Organ Troika summit directed the finalisation of a comprehensive regional response and support to the Republic of Mozambique to be considered urgently by the Summit.”
Mozambique has struggled to deal with the Islamist insurgency in the mainly-Muslim province to its north, which has accounted for over 2 000 lives since 2017. Nearly 430 000 people have been displaced in the fighting.
Yesterday’s summit also addressed the re-organisation of the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), a multi-lateral military formation under the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (known as MONUSCO) authorised by the UN Security Council in 2003.
The FIB is the first UN peacekeeping operation specifically tasked to carry out targeted offensive operations to neutralise and disarm groups considered a threat to state authority and civilian security. Its operations have targeted the M23 rebel group which operates primarily in the province of North Kivu in eastern DRC.
Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania contribute troops to the stabilisation mission.
The UN wants to cut the number of troops deployed under the FIB, ostensibly because of funding constraints.
“The extraordinary organ troika summit accepted the proposal by the United Nations to realign the current Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) troops strength to create the headroom for the Quick Reaction Forces (QRFs), and generate two QRFs from the SADC troops contributing countries,” reads the communiqué.
“The extraordinary organ troika summit expressed appreciation to the United Nations for the continued partnership and support.
“The extraordinary organ troika summit pledged regional support to the development and implementation of the joint strategy on the progressive and Phased Drawdown of MONUSCO in the DRC.”
Addressing plenary earlier on, host and organ chair President Masisi underscored the need for a coordinated approach to confront the growing menace of terrorism and insurgency in the region.
“Your Excellencies, even though the region’s performance in the areas of democracy and peace remains the envy of many, there are some emerging issues that are threatening the preservation of our peace and security,” said President Masisi. “These include terrorism, insurgencies, cybercrime and transnational organised crimes.”
President Masisi said member states could not deal with these threats individually.
“As such, there is need for an integrated and coordinated regional approach to effectively deal with these eminent threats,” he said. “You will recall that at our last organ troika summit that was held on August 14, 2020, we endorsed the report on the assessment of security threats to the Sadc region.
“Even though the report identified a number of security threats, it singled out terrorism as the most serious threat that needs urgent attention from all the member States.
“As we all know, terrorism is very cancerous in nature. Once it finds fertile ground, it spreads out like bushfire. There is, therefore, an absolute need to urgently nip it from the bud before it engulfs the entire region.”
Recent reports suggest that 50 people were beheaded by the militant Islamists, with links to the Islamic State (IS) group.
Responding to the news earlier this month, President Mnangagwa condemned the acts of terrorism in Mozambique, warning that Zimbabwe was ready to assist in stamping out the insurgency.
Writing on Twitter, the President said: “I am deeply shocked by reports of terrorist activity in Mozambique.
“These acts of barbarity must be stamped out wherever they are found. Zimbabwe is ready to assist in any way we can.
“The security of our region is paramount in the protection of our people.”
In May, President Mnangagwa held a meeting with President Nyusi in Chimoio, Mozambique, where the two leaders discussed the security situation in Cabo Delgado and parts of Mozambique’s Manica and Sofala provinces, which are also affected by insurgents.
The two leaders condemned the acts of banditry in Mozambique, concluding that such acts undermined peace and development.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and State Security Minister Owen Ncube attended yesterday’s meeting.