Jump to navigation


Regional grouping postpones security summit 'indefinitely' as differences sharpen over Cabo Delgado conflict 

Officials distance themselves from a leaked strategy paper calling for a 3,000 strong intervention force to defeat Islamist insurgents

Pushing back against a growing determination among regional states to take concerted action to quell the insurgency in northern Mozambique, President Fillipe Nyusi has managed to engineer an 'indefinite postponement' of a Southern African Development Community security summit which had been due to be held on 29 April (AC Vol 62 No 9, Nyusi's breaking point).

Insiders say that the official reasons for the postponement of the meeting – agenda clashes and coronavirus infections – were a convenient pretext, given sharp differences between Mozambique and Zimbabwe on the crisis.

We hear that Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa favours a robust regional intervention force led by commanders from the Zimbabwe National Army, which undertook a similar operation in Congo-Kinshasa two decades ago. A  draft strategy paper arguing for that kind of force but disowned by SADC officials was thought to have been leaked by Harare. 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Botswana's Mokgweetsi Masisi were both unable to attend the planned SADC Troika meeting on Thursday (29 April), explained officials, with Masisi being forced to quarantine after being in contact with someone who has contracted Covid-19.

Meeting on 28 April, SADC foreign ministers agreed with the recommendation made by a SADC assessment mission that Mozambique's security forces needed immediate support 'to combat the threat of terrorism and acts of violent extremism in Cabo Delgado.' 

Botswana's International Affairs minister, Lemogang Kwape, who chairs the SADC committee on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation said in a statement that a regional force was permitted under the 'collective self-defence, and collective action' clause in the bloc's 2008 defence pact.

SADC's assessment mission included military and intelligence experts from Angola, Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, and concluded that although there was a lull in fighting since the Mozambican army recaptured the town of Palma, the retreat could have been due to the start of Ramadan (AC Vol 62 No 7, Insurgents turn up the heat). As they were meeting, reports from Palma said the insurgents had relaunched attacks on the town.

Over the past year President Nyusi has consistently rejected regional but not all foreign intervention: he has hired both Russian and South African private military companies to fight the insurgents alongside local forces.

Zimbabwean military sources say this isn't working and a bigger force with more airpower is needed. South Africa and Botswana are uneasy about Zimbabwe taking a lead role in Mozambique's conflict but agree with Mnangagwa that the crisis risks spreading across regional borders.

Related Articles

Nyusi's breaking point

President Filipe Nyusi is under heavy pressure to finally accept foreign military intervention to quash the escalating insurgency in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

Insurgents turn up the heat

A well-planned attack on Palma in Cabo Delgado cost dozens of lives, raising questions about the future of the $20 billion gas project nearby

Although government forces claimed definitive victory on 27 March over the Ahlu Sunna Wal Jammah (ASWJ) fighters who had seized control of Palma, on the northern tip of Cabo Delgad...


Aid row escalates

Britain and Germany cut budget support over a tuna-fishing company and other deals. Ahead of the elections, Frelimo is not giving in

The governing Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo) is engaged in an increasingly bitter row with foreign donors over loans and public spending. Britain...

Stolen election claims trigger protests

Evidence of mass vote-rigging in municipal elections has prompted public anger and infighting in the ruling party

Widespread protests followed ruling party Frente de Libertação de Moçambique's (Frelimo) declaration of a near clean sweep in the 11 October municipal election...

No son, you can't run

A nervous Frelimo has been using increasingly blatant manipulation and strongarm tactics to fend off challenges to its candidates in October's local elections, especially in the co...