The Southern African Development Community extended by a year its mission in Mozambique that’s been helping the government fight threats of terrorism, militant groups and an Islamic State-linked insurgency.
In 2021, 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. Besides that, SADC counted on funding from the United States and European Union (EU) to support its proposed military deployment (3,000 troops) in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique.
The SADC assessment team proposed that 16 vessels be sent to Mozambique, namely two patrol ships, a submarine, a maritime surveillance plane, six helicopters, two drones and four transport planes. In April 2021, Southern African ministers finally agreed to deploy a regional force in Mozambique.
The 16-member bloc, which deployed hundreds of soldiers in Mozambique’s northeastern Cabo Delgado province two years ago, said the extension will “consolidate the gains achieved” since the mission began, according to a statement sent via text message by the Zambian presidency.
Heads of state from SADC members including South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Namibia met on 11 July, 2023, to discuss the situation in Mozambique, it said.
The worsening security situation at that time was a major setback for Mozambique. While it hoped to reap nearly $100 billion in revenue over 25 years from LNG projects, the state failed its pledge to maintain and enforce security after several warnings.
The insurgency, which began in 2017, has left thousands of people dead and led to the suspension of a €20 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) project by the French TotalEnergies SA. The gas project located about six kilometres from the city that suffered the armed attack in March that year.
“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.
During the 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, interestingly used the phrase – “African solutions to African problems” – seven times during his speech delivered on February 18.
Besides that, he strongly suggested that existing conflicts and disputes on the continent, it necessary to mobilize collective efforts to resolve them and “must be confined to this continent and quarantined from the contamination of non-African interference.”
Mozambique now enjoys relative peace due to the SADC regional force. President Filipe Nyusi has been sharing these valuable experiences about the use of well-constituted regional military force for enforcing peace and security in his country. Creating regional military forces to fight threats of terrorism will absolutely not require bartering the entire gold or diamond mines for the purchase of military equipment from external countries, he emphasized several times at different conferences.
Now, Mozambique has relative peace and stability after the 16-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) had finally approved the deployment of joint military force with the primary responsibility of ensuring peace and stability, and for restoring normalcy in the Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique.
It involves troops from Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community Military Mission (SAMIM). Rwanda offered 1,000 in July 2021. South Africa has the largest contingent of around 1,500 troops. External countries are, of course, enormously helping to stabilize the situation in Mozambique.
The Joint Forces of the Southern African Development Community are keeping peace in northern Mozambique. The rules, standards and policies, provision of the assistance as well as the legal instruments and practices are based on the protocols of building security stipulated by the African Union. It, therefore, falls within the framework of peace and security requirements of the African Union.
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.