SADC leaders resolve ‘immediate technical deployment’ in Mozambique

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, left, and Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwe, right, join Southern African leaders during a meeting in Mozambique's capital Maputo, Thursday, April 8, 2021. Leaders met to discuss ways to respond to the violence by Islamic extremist rebels in the country's northern Cabo Delgado province where thousands of people have been killed and displaced. (AP Photo/Ferhat Momade)
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SADC will urgently resuscitate and capacitate its Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in order to facilitate deployment in Mozambique, which is presently under siege from insurgents that claim to be affiliated to the Islamic State (IS), President Mnangagwa has said.

Speaking after returning from Mozambique for the Double Troika Summit yesterday, the President said it was now the responsibility of defence and security chiefs to implement the resolution.

“First, we had the Troika itself, which sat and adopted the recommendations of the Ministers of Defence and Security which, in the main, included the need to have SADC take responsibility in dealing with the threat in Cabo Delgado, in the sense that SADC, through its Force Intervention Brigade — our SADC force — should be resuscitated and capacitated immediately so that it can intervene,” he said.

“Later on we had the Double Troika, which then brings on board the outgoing chair, Tanzania, and the incoming chair, Malawi. The Troika submitted its report to the Double Troika, and the Double Troika endorsed the decisions of the Troika. 

“Yes, what is happening now is that the defence and security chiefs have the responsibility of implementing the decisions of the Double Troika.”

FIB was first conceived as an arm of the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).

It is composed entirely of troops from South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi.

However, at a key meeting of the Organ Troika convened in Botswana in November last year, the bloc accepted a proposal by the United Nations to “realign the current Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) troops’ strength to create the headroom for the Quick Reaction Forces (QRFs), and generate two QRFs from the SADC Troops-Contributing Countries”.

Yesterday’s Double Troika Summit was called by Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who is chair of the Organ on Defence, Politics and Security Cooperation, which is responsible for peace and security in the region.

At the key meeting, SADC resolved to immediately deploy in Mozambique as it prepares “a proportionate regional response” to terrorist attacks in northern Mozambique.

Defence ministers from Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa — which currently make up the Organ Troika — will also meet on April 28 to prepare a follow-up extraordinary meeting of the Organ Troika the following day.

In a communiqué at the end of the Summit, the SADC secretariat said the heinous attacks, particularly in Cabo Delgado province, could not be allowed to continue. Insurgents attacked the coastal city of Palma on March 24 and displaced more than 11 000 people.

The exact number of people killed in the horrific attacks, which took place close to a multibillion-dollar gas project by French energy giant Total, are not yet known.

“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,” read part of the statement released after the key meetings.

“Double Troika directed an immediate technical deployment to the Republic of Mozambique, and the convening of an Extraordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ by April 28, 2021, that will report to the Extraordinary Organ Troika Summit on April 29, 2021.”

Regional countries have resolved to intervene “as a collective” to deal with the deteriorating security situation in Mozambique, which threatens “the whole region and humanity at large”.

Officially opening the Organ Troika Summit, President Masisi said there was need to deal decisively with the insurgents to bring SADC back on its development path.

The region, he added, would ensure “the scourge of terrorism does not find a home in our region”.

“We all agree that the deteriorating security situation in the northern province of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique is indeed a serious threat to peace and security not only our sister country, but also to the whole region and humanity at large. In particular, the recent attacks in the town of Palma have recently demonstrated the magnitude of the problem at our doorsteps,” said President Masisi.

“We cannot stay indifferent to the brutal and indiscriminate attacks by these faceless terrorists.”

Describing the insurgents as “inhumane killers”, President Masisi said there was need to ensure “the scourge of terrorism does not find a home in our region”.

He said although Mozambique had commendably fought off attacks from the terrorists, it could not possibly be expected to sustain the operations in the long term.

“No member state can deal with the scourge of terrorism alone. Even the most powerful of nations on the planet have not been able to effectively address terrorism on their own.”

The Double Troika is made up of Mozambique, the current chair; Malawi, which is the incoming chair; and Tanzania (the outgoing).

Other members include Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe.