Cape Argus

Riddle of Cabo Delgado

Why is Mozambique reluctant to deploy SADC forces? Events are coming to a head

- DR MUSTAFA MHETA Mheta is a senior researcher on the Africa Desk of Media Review Network, South Africa

THE Southern African Developmen­t Community (SADC) recently met in Maputo to discuss the deployment of an SADC force to help Mozambique fight the so-called “Isis terrorists” in Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique. This is after the last meeting was aborted last month in unclear circumstan­ces.

It was clear that there are a lot more cracks within the SADC than what meets the eye. Though the leadership issued a statement at the end of the meeting affirming their solidarity with Maputo, something is not right somewhere, somehow.

The blame seems to lay squarely at the feet of the Mozambican government that now seems reluctant to allow an SADC interventi­on force in that part of the country, leaving us with a lot more questions than answers.

Why is the Mozambican government procrastin­ating? Is there something that it is hiding there? Were they just crying wolf to the SADC region that ISIS is in their country? Or is the Mozambican government afraid the world will get to know the truth – that the insurgency in Cabo Delgado has nothing to do with Islam, as we have always been saying?

The answer is clearly, yes, Islam has nothing to do with what is going on in Cabo Delgado except that the theatre of operations happens to be in a predominan­tly majority Muslim province, that is Cabo Delgado. The people who are complainin­g and feel let down are also Muslims – and that is what has attracted the label “Islamists”. Period!

This is not a new thing to many Muslims. We know that this caricaturi­ng of Muslims has been going on for an exceptiona­lly long time now, even though its culminatio­n was 9/11. Its main aim is to raise Islamophob­ia against Muslims the world over by portraying them as a violent people.

However, the truth is what is going on in Cabo Delgado is a home-grown problem fuelled by the citizens’ disgruntle­ments about the government neglecting them and refusing to share natural resources found in that part of the country.

The truth is emerging now about the people who are involved in exploiting the people of Cabo Delgado. Top of the list is Armando Guebuza, the former Mozambican president, and the godfather of Northern Mozambique.

He and President Nyusi are from the Makonde tribe, and he handpicked Nyusi to succeed him. This could perhaps explain why President Nyusi owes him a lot. He and a few elites in Frelimo are accused of being responsibl­e for what transpires in the province.

He is also described as a very corrupt person by many people from that part of the country.

That is why Tanzania is refusing to send troops to Mozambique, asking “which enemy are we going to fight if we send our army”? The reluctance by the Tanzanian government to send its troops despite the fact that it shares borders with the affected province says a lot. This could also explain why President Nyusi is going as far as Rwanda to ask President Paul Kagame to give him troops.

Is the Rwandan army more experience­d than the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF), or the Angolan army? Does the Rwandan army know our Southern African terrain better than our battle-hardened SADC forces?

Another argument that is doing the rounds is that President Nyusi is warming up to Kagame to spite South Africa. Over the years relations between South Africa and Rwanda have been frosty due to some incidents surroundin­g the death of Rwandan dissidents who had sought asylum in South Africa. It is alleged that the Rwandan president sent his intelligen­ce agents to assassinat­e them.

We hope that is not the case on the part of President Nyusi as South Africa has always been a good neighbour and friend of Maputo. Instead, our regional integratio­n and co-operation should always come first. Besides, the scourge of terrorism if real will end up affecting the entire region if not stopped now.

We do not see any reason why there should be any troop deployment from the SADC.

Neither South African troops nor any foreign military interventi­on is required to resolve socio-political and economic problems of a sovereign nation. However, we remain worried that President Ramaphosa might be pressured to deploy to protect French investment­s in Cabo Delgado rather than doing it for the sake of regional stability.

We hope that the state visit by President Emmanuel Macron of France to South Africa at a time of heightened tensions in Mozambique may not just prove what we have always believed all along, ie, the Mozambican government is protecting foreign interests ahead of local ones.

President Nyusi must see reason and never allow a situation whereby the founding president of Mozambique, the incorrupti­ble Comrade Samora Moises Machel, turns in his grave because of what his comrades in Frelimo are doing.

Samora never took a penny from his people. He died a pauper president and is dearly loved and respected by the people of Africa.

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 ?? | EPA-EFE ?? SOLDIERS patrol the streets of Palma, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, after armed groups attacked the town in April.
| EPA-EFE SOLDIERS patrol the streets of Palma, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, after armed groups attacked the town in April.

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