Southern African Development Community (Sadc) leaders have agreed to deploy forces to Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado Province to support the country’s military in its fight against an Islamist insurgency.
The resolution was made at the Extraordinary Sadc Heads on State and Government Summit held in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, yesterday as a continuation of the bloc’s efforts to address the terrorism in Cabo Delgado that has killed hundreds of people and displaced hundreds of thousands others since 2017.
In a statement issued after the meeting, Sadc executive secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax said: “[The heads of State] approved the deployment of the Sadc Standby Force to support Mozambique to combat terrorism and acts of violent extremism in Cabo Delgado.”
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier urged the regional bloc to offer support to Mozambique to contain the Islamist insurgency which has been terrorising the oil-rich region for three years.
He said: “This follows discussions and decisions taken in the past that include recommendations from the team sent to make an assessment on what type of intervention the Sadc needs to make.
“We will receive further reports. We are all convinced we cannot allow a situation where insurgents infiltrate the country and take over an area or region, kill and displace people and we all sit and do not support.”
The approval follows a recommendation made by a Sadc technical assessment team, who in April recommended deployment of a 3 000-strong regional force to help Mozambique “combat and neutralise” the insurgents and recapture territory they had taken.
During yesterday’s meeting, Sadc also celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the bloc’s foundation with the launch of three books—40 Years of Sadc: Enhancing Regional Cooperation and Integration, Volume 2 of Mozambique Sadc Success Stories, and the Hashim Mbita (Southern African Liberation Struggles).
During the Summit, President Lazarus Chakwera took over the Sadc chairmanship, replacing Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi.
In his remarks during the meeting, Chakwera appealed for unity and peace within Sadc if the bloc is to develop.
He said: “All of us, as Africans, must work together, and Sadc as a regional economic bloc lets continue making strides by solving problems collaboratively and collectively.
“We have worked together to be a model of a continuing integration and we have successfully shown our bond that goes beyond diplomacy on trade and many other areas.”
The President hailed outgoing Sadc chairperson and outgoing Sadc Troika on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation chairperson Botswana President Mokgweetsi Keabetswe Masisi for their commitment to ensure that there was peace in the region during their tenure.
Chakwera took advantage of the meeting to formally invite the Sadc Heads of State and Governments to the 41st Sadc Summit to be hosted by Malawi in August.
“I pledge to be of service and I, therefore, invite you all that you come to Malawi for the 41st Summit in August 2021,” he said.
In her remarks, Tax said, among others, the summit was impressed with the strides it is taking to provide solutions to some challenges existing in the region. n
—Additional reporting by Mphatso Nkuonera, Mana