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SADC Told To Brace For Complex Cabo Delgado ‘War’

Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been warned to brace for a complex ‘war’ in Cabo Delgado following the regional bloc’s recent decision to intervene in Mozambique’s troubled region.

The April 8 meeting of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security resolved to assist Mozambique to fight Islamic insurgents who have caused terror in the oil-rich province.

Hundreds have died while humanitarian organisations estimate that at least 700,000 people have been displaced since deadly fighting broke out in 2017.

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) drawn from across the world, have welcomed the decision to offer support to Mozambique.

The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) is one of the 30 civil society organisations that issued a communiqué last week Friday backing SADC’s action.

Maputo-based CDD director and professor, Adriano Nuvunga told The Monitor the Cabo Delgado situation presents a complex situation.

“Mozambicans have been waiting for SADC’s intervention, what form that was not clear. Some people were expecting SADC to intervene militarily.

But the next question is; does SADC have the capacity to militarily intervene in Mozambique? Looking at the strongest countries in the region, do they have the capacity to intervene militarily in the type of conflict that Mozambique is dealing with in Cabo Delgado? That is an important question,” Nuvunga said.

He added the call for SADC to intervene has been to amplify the forum where Cabo Delgado problems would be discussed through dialogue.

“People have been looking at it as a platform where some form of transparency and accountability could be gained from Mozambique leadership.”

Nuvunga said there could be compelling reasons why Mozambique has been reluctant to accept SADC’s intervention. President Filipe Nyusi has reportedly been opposed to regional intervention, particularly military support.

“In terms of reluctance for SADC to intervene, speaks to several factors.

One is the understanding that SADC might not necessarily have that capacity to intervene and therefore, Mozambique preparing to have a bilateral engagement with some of SADC member states perceived to have some capacity,” he said.

However, he said the complex nature of the conflict, might make SADC’s job difficult.

“Perhaps that might be speaking to the

nature of the conflict itself which, although it’s framed as international terrorism linked to the jihadists that might be true, but also important local dimensions are amounting to the root causes, and these include marginalisation and elitism in the exploration of resources without development trickling down to the people.

This has left people in a state of hopelessness. This has meant the youth are left vulnerable and are recruited by organised crime cartels,” he said.

Meanwhile, on Friday a coalition of NGOs issued a statement, supporting SADC actions, but urged caution.

“We welcome collective action from SADC in committing to bringing sustainable peace to the region. We urge our leaders to consider lessons learnt from other similar conflicts in Africa.

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,” reads the communique. “We assert that intervention by SADC – whether military, humanitarian, development, or state-building – must be evaluated on its ability to protect all people affected by the conflict – particularly girls and women – without discrimination.

We, therefore, call for the region’s leaders to adopt a holistic response to Cabo Delgado.

A people-centred approach should operationalise SADC’s commitment to Human Security, uphold International Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (IHL),” the NGOs stated.

SADC was urged to consider the impact of its actions, which should be geared towards finding lasting peace.

President [Mokgweetsi] Masisi announced last month, that the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security had resolved to intervene in the Mozambique crisis.

A SADC meeting scheduled for Maputo last week Thursday was postponed after Masisi, who is the Organ’s chairperson, went into quarantine, while South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa was unavailable due to his appearance before his country’s State Capture Commission of Inquiry.


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