SADC states have been urged to support Mozambique’s fight against terrorists and armed groups attacking civilians and infrastructure in Cabo Delgado Province in the north-east of the country.
In a communiqué after an Extra-Ordinary Summit of the Troika on Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation held at State House in Harare yesterday, which was also attended by Mozambique, the leaders said Sadc condemned the armed terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage carried out in Cabo Delgado Province as contained in the Sadc Declaration on Terrorism and the AU Convention on the Prevention and Combating Terrorism.
“The Extraordinary Organ Troika Summit plus Mozambique urged Sadc member states to support the Government of Mozambique in fighting the terrorists and armed groups in some districts of Cabo Delgado,” reads part of the communiqué.
The communiqué was read out by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo.
The meeting was convened by President Mnangagwa in his capacity as the chairperson of the Sadc Troika to discuss the security situation in Mozambique following its request for the regional body’s intervention.
The Summit was attended by Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu, Botswana’s leader Mokgweetsi Masisi, who are both members of the Troika, and their Mozambican counterpart, Filipe Nyusi, who briefed the meeting of the situation in his country.
In his remarks when he officially opened the Summit, President Mnangagwa thanked President Nyusi for formally presenting the situation in his country to Sadc.
He said this showed the confidence he had in the regional body’s structures and support and ability to work together to deal with the threat.
“The threat of terrorism in the past decade has assumed greater proportions,” he said. “Regions that previously did not perceive seriousness of the threat, or seemed immune to terrorism, are being targeted by terrorists. The threat is now becoming increasingly complex, blurring boundaries between political religious and ideological extremism and crime. In addition, the modus operandi of the terrorist groups and their networks are intricate and elaborate.”
He said the region was equally affected by the growing risk of threatening peace, security and development.
President Mnangagwa said as the Chairman of the Sadc Troika, he was concerned by the situation in Cabo Delgado and parts of Manica and Sofala provinces and had decided to convene the meeting after his meeting with President Nyusi in Mozambique last month.
“The possible impact that these developments have on the peace and security of the people of Mozambique and the entire region are indeed dire. Subsequently we both agreed on the importance of an urgent Organ Troika meeting to brief the Organ on the extent of the problem and proffer the way forward,” President Mnangagwa said.
Speaking after the Summit, the President said their meeting was frank and open, adding that they reiterated their commitment to peace, security and stability in Mozambique and the region.
“This is all testimony to Sadc’s robust and rich heritage, which stems out of the founding principles of our august regional body,” he said.
President Lungu thanked President Mnangagwa for convening the Summit despite dangers being faced globally due to Covid-19.
Cabo Delgado is the north-eastern province of Mozambque, bordering on Tanzania and the Indian Ocean. Since October 2017 armed groups claiming to be Islamist militants have been attacking civilians, who have taken the brunt of the attacks, police and government workers and buildings. It has claimed ties with the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant and that terrorist group has said it is active in the area.
It is thought that the terrorists fund their activities largely through drug and ivory smuggling.
Political analyst Goodwine Mureriwa commended Sadc’s solidarity in tackling its challenges.
He said the spirit of solidarity was a historical reality of shared cultural values co-existence that were there prior to colonisation. “Ubuntu demands unity and friendly relations in Sadc and Africa as a whole.”
Mr Mureriwa said the collective liberation war support and values continue to cement the “injure one injure all principle” that binds the region.
“The move to counter terrorism is noble and inevitable in the interest of regional security, terrorism is a global threat to peace, stability and development. It should be condemned and eradicated,” Mr Mureriwa said.
Meanwhile, the Summit commended the region’s efforts in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and paid tribute to medical frontline workers that have sacrificed their lives in fighting the disease. The Summit also took note of the situation in Lesotho following the resignation of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane yesterday.
The Summit also noted the situation in Malawi, which is due to hold elections following a Supreme Court ruling that nullified results of its Presidential election held last year.