Written by Kester Kenn Klomegah – independent researcher and policy consultant on African affairs in the Russian Federation and Eurasian Union.
While speaking during a signing ceremony of an agreement formalising World Bank support of US$100M assistance to the affected districts, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi unreservedly reiterated his detailed plan to enforce nation-wide security by cracking down on the militant groups who have been staging attacks in parts of the northern province of Cabo Delgado since October 2017.
He also informed that courage, persistence and determination are necessary for the full-fledged fulfilment of the plan, as well as time for modernising and building the capacity of the Mozambican forces, adding that his government has to tread cautiously in choosing what type of aid to accept from other countries.
An integral part of the actions involved in the plan focuses on the Indian Ocean coastline, control over the borders with neighbouring countries (especially for northern Mozambique bordering Tanzania) and joint efforts between Mozambique and its allies, including sharing intelligence.
Nyusi’s statement came a day before Maputo hosted the Extraordinary Troika Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to discuss the conflict in Cabo Delgado and possible support from neighbouring countries.
The 16-nation SADC is counting on funding from the United States and European Union (EU) to support its proposed military deployment (3,000 troops) in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, according to Andre Thomashausen, professor emeritus of international law at the University of South Africa (UNISA).
Thomashausen said that the group “is desperately seeking” ways to strengthen and rehabilitate its military operational capabilities through the intervention in northern Mozambique and “SADC wants this entire operation to be funded by support from the European Union and, to some extent, the United States. SADC is envisaging a role for the European Union of financial rather than logistical or human resources support.”
On April 28, Southern African ministers agreed to deploy a regional force in Mozambique. But the Southern African leaders’ meeting that was to assess the security situation and offer the final approval for deployment of SADC military force was postponed due to the unavailability of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
Botswana is the current chair of the SADC division, which is tasked with promoting peace and security in the region. Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi is quarantined due to Covid-19. Ramaphosa was busy giving testimony to an inquiry into corruption under his predecessor Jacob Zuma.
Botswana and South Africa along with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, are the current members of the SADC security organ troika. The three would have met Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi at the summit to decide whether to accept the proposed intervention plan.
The insurgency broke out in Mozambique’s northeast in 2017 and the rebels have stepped up attacks in the past years, with the latest March 24 heinous attack left more than 2,800 deaths, according to several reports, and about 714,000 people displaced, according to government sources.
The worsening security situation is a major setback for Mozambique. While it hopes to reap nearly US$100B in revenue over 25 years from LNG projects, the state failed its pledge to maintain and enforce security after several warnings.
Now French energy group Total has declared force majeure on its €20B liquefied natural gas (LNG) project following the insurgent attacks. The gas project located about six kilometres from the city that suffered the armed attack in March.
Meanwhile, the Mozambican parliamentary opposition parties have demanded “scrutiny” of the cost of war in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, accusing the government of “failure” and warning of the risk of the conflict being used for the “illicit enrichment of the elites.”
The requirement was made during the second and last day of questions to the government session in the Assembly of the Republic of Mozambique.
“The defence and security sector must be scrutinised because elites in times of war use this sector for their illicit enrichment,” said Deputy Fernando Bismarque of the Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM), Mozambique’s third-largest parliamentary party.
Insisting on a reply to the question that the MDM had already posted the costs of the fight against “terrorists” and the use of “mercenaries” in Cabo Delgado, Fernando Bismarque accused the government of making “a secret” of expenditure on the conflict in the north of the country.
“It is the Government’s role to render accounts to the Assembly of the Republic. It is not and should not be any state secret, because it is this House that approved the State Budget and we are within the scope of our constitutional and regimental powers to oversee government action,” the MDM deputy said.
Besides that, about 30 representatives of civil society from across Africa, in a signed document, have welcome the decision by the Double Troika taken to collectively form coordinated action to ensure long-term peace as a necessary path to development in the southern Africa region.
“We welcome collective action from SADC in committing to bringing sustainable peace to the region. We urge our leaders to consider the lessons learnt from other similar conflicts in Africa. In the Sahel, Somalia, and the Niger Delta offer stark contemporary reminders that a purely militaristic solution (devoid of measures to address the causes of the insurgency) increases the likelihood of its intractability. It is also unlikely to pave the way towards achieving sustainable peace,” the statement said.
With an approximate population of 30 million, Mozambique is endowed with rich and extensive natural resources but remains one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world. It is one of the 16 countries, with a collective responsibility to promote socio-economic and political and security cooperation, within the Southern African Development Community.