HARARE – Southern African leaders will meet virtually on Friday for an extraordinary summit to review the mandate and progress of the regional bloc’s military force deployed in Mozambique.
Sadc deployed its Standby Force to Mozambique’s restive northeastern province of Cabo Delgado last July to help government forces to ward off an Islamic rebel insurgency that has killed thousands and displaced thousands of others in the last three years.
The mission’s mandate was set to expire in October last year, but the regional bloc later agreed to extend it so that troops can create a conducive environment for the resettlement of the displaced population and facilitate humanitarian assistance operations and sustainable development.
Sadc chairman, President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi is expected to chair the extraordinary Heads of State and Government summit.
The summit is expected to discuss the support for the effective operation of the Sadc Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) and its objectives to bring peace and stability.
“The Southern African Development Community will on 7th January 2022 hold a virtual Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government to review progress and mandate of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM),” Sadc said in a statement.
“Prior to the Extraordinary Summit, His Excellency Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa and Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation will, on 5 January 2022, convene an Extraordinary SADC Organ Troika Summit, comprising Heads of State and Government from Organ Troika members namely; Botswana, Namibia and South Africa and will be attended by the Republic of Mozambique.”
Before the leaders’ summit, preceding meetings include those of experts of the Inter-State Defence and Security Committee, finance committee, and the Sadc Council of Ministers.
“In accordance with the SADC Treaty, the SADC Summit is responsible for the overall policy direction and control of functions of the community, ultimately making it the policy-making institution of SADC,” it said.
The security crisis in Mozambique has festered since 2017 but grabbed international attention in 2020.
The economic and social cost to the country has also been enormous, prompting United Nations agencies to call for swift action to end the conflict.
Over the past three years, the armed insurgents have launched numerous attacks across Cabo Delgado, and recently pillaged the town of Palma, leading to a shutdown of multi-billion dollar gas projects in the area. -New Ziana.