The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) is reportedly amongst SADC states ready for a ‘boots on the ground’ peace-keeping effort in Mozambique as part of regional efforts to fight terrorists in that country, Mmegi has learnt.
It is not yet clear if the planned deployment will involve military operations, technical assistance or another type of support. Yesterday afternoon, Minister of Justice, Defence and Security Kagiso Mmusi told Mmegi, just hours before President Mokgweetsi Masisi returned from chairing a SADC meeting in Maputo on the crisis, that they are assessing how to help Mozambique.
“Our President [Masisi] is the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
The Mozambique President has requested for our help and so we are looking at it,” he said in a brief interview.
Besides Masisi, the Extraordinary SADC Double Troika in Maputo was attended by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, as well as Hussein Ali Mwinyi, representing Tanzania’s new President, Samia Suluhu Hassan.
Late yesterday evening, Masisi said SADC had agreed to initiate its defence pact to provide all forms of assistance to Mozambique in the shortest available time. “This follows an elongated period of commitment of heinous atrocities where people’s internal organs are taken out by the militants, people beheaded, pregnant mothers’ stomachs ripped open and babies strewn everywhere,” he said in response to questions by Mmegi at an airport briefing.
“The brutality is quite devastating.
“The countries of SADC are pledging support to Mozambique, material, military, logistical and otherwise.”
Masisi said the costs of intervention in Mozambique had to be weighed against the cost of allowing the insurgency in that country to continue claiming lives and potentially spilling over “onto our shores”. “Do we say no, we have a COVID burden and no money? In the response of various countries,
Meanwhile, from Maputo, heads of state issued a communique saying SADC was in full solidarity with the government of Mozambique in its efforts for peace. The Summit further directed an immediate SADC Organ technical deployment to Mozambique, and the convening of an Extraordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ by the end of April.
“Double Troika Summit received a report from the Organ Troika on the security situation in Mozambique, and noted with concern, the acts of terrorism perpetrated against innocent civilians, women and children in some of the districts of Cabo Delgado Province of the Republic of Mozambique; condemned the terrorist attacks in strongest terms; and affirmed that such heinous attacks cannot be allowed to continue without a proportionate regional response. Northern Mozambique has been shaken by Islamic militants, with deadly attacks in recent weeks that left many citizens dead and others displaced. South Africa’s defence force was recently in the country and repatriated about 50 citizens. One South African was confirmed to have died in the most recent attacks focused on the town of Palma.
The terror attacks began four years ago and appear to be focused on the oil rich region. The militants have waged campaigns against the Mozambique army and ordinary citizens, with reports of mass executions and beheadings.