Moza’s search for salvation

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THE decision last week by SADC to finally deploy troops to contain the insurgency by a terror group operating in Mozambique was not only indicative of the solidarity that binds nations in the region together, but a serious show of commitment towards protection and preservation of African resources.

There has been increased forays in the Southern African region by terrorists amid fears that the conflict is being driven by certain countries’ desire to loot natural resources in the region.

Zimbabwe and Mozambique have, in recent times, made huge discoveries of gas and oil and there are rising concerns that acts of terrorism in the generally peaceful Southern African region are being fuelled by Western countries with vested interests in the said resources.

The terrorists, calling themselves Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama/Ansar al-Sunna (ASWJ or Supporters of the Tradition) have been on the rampage since they started their brutal attacks on civilians in Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado in 2017.

The terror group, which claims to have links with ISIS, has yet to make any demands but it is widely believed that hunger and poverty are behind the relentless attacks that have been witnessed so far.

Lack of access to resources has also been cited as one of the reasons behind the insurgency.

Reports have indicated that many of the ASWJ members are avid followers of Sheik Rogo, a Kenyan Muslim cleric who reportedly bombed the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

Following his death in 2012, many of his followers moved to Northern Mozambique where his interpretation of Islam has found significant takers in Mocimboa da Praia, a district in Cabo Delgaldo.

In 2019, ASWJ pledged allegiance to ISIS.

More than 3 000 people have been killed while at least 800 000 have been displaced from their homes in the gas-rich Cabo Delgado Province where several Western companies, including French company Total, have invested heavily in gas.

Total says it will invest US$20 billion in Mozambique.

Of concern has been SADC’s supposed inaction on the matter, especially in the wake of the brutal attacks that the terrorists have launched on civilians this year.

Also, the Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP), based in the DRC, has been making inroads into Southern Africa and indications are that they are partnering the extremists in Mozambique.

The idea is to establish caliphate of East and Southern Africa. 

But an extraordinary summit of SADC Heads of State and Government held in Maputo last week resolved to put an end to the insurgency in Mozambique.

“Summit endorsed the recommendations of the Report of the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation and approved the Mandate for the SADC Standby Force Mission to the Republic of Mozambique, to be deployed in support of Mozambique to combat terrorism and acts of violent extremism in Cabo Delgado,” reads part of the communique that was presented to the press by SADC executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax at the end of the summit which was the third that the regional bloc has held as it sought ways to combat the terrorism in Mozambique.

SADC did not, however, indicate when it will deploy the troops.

The bloc was also mum on how many troops would be deployed in Mozambique.

But Mozambique President Felipe Nyusi, speaking during his country’s 46th independence anniversary on Friday last week indicated that the terrorists would be dealt with, with foreign assistance.

“We will do everything to ensure that the coming times are of despair and agony for the terrorists operating in Mozambique,” said President Nyusi in a televised address.

“Mozambique’s brave defence and security forces will intensify their operations to hunt down these criminals, getting the necessary support from SADC and friendly countries but without compromising our sovereignty as a nation.”

There are serious concerns on the Mozambique insurgency.

An extra-ordinary summit of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation held in Gaborone in December resolved to deal decisively with the security threat in Mozambique and the DRC but prior to last week’s extraordinary summit in Maputo, there had been little or no movement in the implementation of that summit’s resolutions.

A communique released after the December summit expressed solidarity with Mozambique and the DRC.

“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 communique in part.

“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.”

The communique went on:

“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.

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.”

The coming together of SADC in combating terrorism shows that Africa is on guard, all the time.

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