Thabiso Scotch Mufambi
Harare – The re-organised Double Troika Summit of the Southern African Development Community – which many observers had anticipated would approve a military deployment in northern Mozambique – was held in Maputo Thursday but ended with no concrete plans for a long-awaited regional response to terrorists who have been destabilising that country since 2017.
The meeting was expected to either rubberstamp or at the very least approve a revision of recommendations of a Technical Mission that produced a report advocating for the deployment of around 3,000 troops, six helicopters, and other equipment to confront the growing Islamist insurgency in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province.
A communiqué issued at the end of Thursday’s meeting, which was held about a month after it was initially scheduled, said Heads of State and Government who form the SADC Double Troika had reaffirmed the bloc’s solidarity with the Government of Mozambique and the people of that country in their fight against the terrorists.
It read in part: “Summit noted the progress in finding a lasting solution to terrorism and acts of violent extremism in Cabo Delgado Province, and considered the proposed regional response in support of the Republic of Mozambique.”
It also said, “Summit agreed to convene an Extra-Ordinary Summit by 20 June 2021 to be held in the Republic of Mozambique.”
The growing crisis in Mozambique – which festered from 2017 but grabbed international attention in 2020 as the world grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic – has resulted in the deaths of at least 2,500 people and the displacement of about 700,00 others. The economic and social cost has been great, with United Nations agencies calling for swift action.
Over the past three years, armed insurgents linked to Islamic State have launched dozens of attacks across Cabo Delgado, most recently pillaging the town of Palma.
The insurgency has coincided with the discovery of massive natural gas reserves in the north of Mozambique, leading some observers to conclude that the two issues are correlated.
There have also been concerns that the Government of Mozambique is not keen on a SADC-led intervention to stem the tide of the rebellion, and this past week reports from that country indicated the ruling Frelimo party was more amenable to limited assistance from neighbour Zimbabwe, the European Union and the United States.
SADC’s common legal frameworks provide for a military intervention in cases of intrastate conflict such as the one ongoing in Cabo Delgado, but this remains subject to approval by Mozambique.
What the Double Troika Said
The Southern Times reproduces below the excerpts of the communiqué of the Double Troika Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community held in Maputo, Mozambique on May 27, 2021.
Summit received a report of the Chairperson of the Organ on the security situation in Cabo Delgado Province in northern Mozambique and reaffirmed its solidarity with the Government and people of Mozambique, and its continued efforts in addressing terrorism and ensuring lasting peace and security in Mozambique, which is also a threat to the SADC region.
Summit noted the progress in finding a lasting solution to terrorism and acts of violent extremism in Cabo Delgado, and considered the proposed regional response in support of Mozambique.
Summit agreed to convene an Extra-Ordinary Summit by 20 June 2021 to be held in Mozambique.
Summit noted progress towards establishment and operationalisation of the SADC Humanitarian and Emergency Operations Centre (SHOC), which will enhance regional capabilities in risk and disaster management, and commended Mozambique for her commitment to host the centre.
Summit commended the initiative of Mozambique to organise a Business Forum on the margins of the SADC Summit and invited member states to participate.
Summit expressed sympathy and solidarity with the Government and people of the DRC following the Nyiragongo volcanic eruption in Goma, which caused the destruction of property, loss of life and displacement of people.
Summit commended President Mokgweetsi Masisi, Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation for spearheading the work of the Organ.
Summit commended President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi of Mozambique, Chairperson of SADC, for his leadership in co-ordinating the regional integration agenda, and in mitigating the impact of the COVID–19 pandemic.
Summit thanked President Nyusi for hosting the Double Troika Summit.