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In recent days and weeks before, the institute of Security Studies (ISS) has publicly made a series of allegations regarding the situation in northern Mozambique which requires substantiation. Any respectable NGO especially one that deals with a sensitive subject of security, needs to be extremely careful lest its allegations fuel undue fear and alarm.

My particular concern centres around the unwarranted association which ISS repeatedly links the unrest in Cabo Delgado to Islam and Muslims. The recent dramatic allegations made by them is that South African Muslims have joined what they refer to as “Islamist terrorists” and they specifically claim that these are 10 in number. The obvious question that arises is who are these so-called South African Muslims?

It is expected that the ISS would be familiar with the “Foreign Mercenary Military Act” (FMMA), which governs and regulates laws flowing out of the act. It is a felony for a South African to fight as a mercenary or in a foreign army.

It’s of no use to keep making charges and telling the nation that 10 Muslims have joined ISIS in Mozambique without providing any shred of evidence to support the allegations. If they claim to know the exact number, then it also means that these alleged 10 insurgents, to be precise, are well known to these researchers.

While the allegations remain untested and unproven, it is striking to note that ISS has remained silent on the involvement on the deployment of mercenaries working with the DAG Group. Clearly reports have linked these mercenaries to outfits known to be hired guns in service of those exploiting the natural resources in the region.

What has also aroused deep seated anger and frustration amongst the indigenous population, is the violent brutality of the Mozambican government forces. Demolishing homes and reducing villages to rubble, forcing the expulsion of 700,000 plus people, is reminiscent of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and Rohingya Muslim. The parallels, therefore, thus necessitates a closer scrutiny of the role of Israel in fueling the conflict. Israel’s presence in the region under the guise of “investments and development” is a factor which ISS conveniently ignores.

Instead, the ISS has been raising red herrings about the so-called “ISIS training camps” in South Africa. If so, why doesn’t ISS pass on this information to our security forces?

Why are the ISS researchers failing to explain that the main cause of this insurgency is none other than disgruntlement by the local people in the locality where these resources are being exploited? This crucial fact is known not only to the Mozambican government but also to the South African government.

What is going on in Mozambique is certainly the rise of the people’s frustration against corruption, maladministration, exploitation, nepotism, and cronyism. We challenge these ISS researchers to look at these issues before making conclusions about an Islamic insurgency or holy war.

The insurgency in Cabo Delgado is clearly not driven by territorial ambitions. It has nothing to do with the setting up of the so-called Khilafat or Islamic State in that part of Mozambique. Yes, the area happens to have a Muslim majority population who are simply saying we want a fair, just, and equitable dispensation.

Remember also that when oil and gas was discovered in the area, many people were unjustly removed from the area to pave way for developments without following proper channels according to the rule of law. Instead, the government simply chased these people away without any form of compensation whatsoever. This issue is one of the main disgruntlements that these people have against the government of Mozambique.

It is also important to mention here that, good research is meant to benefit the people through pointing out issues that will benefit the people. It should equally reprimand the bad that is bedevilling society for the benefit of the same.

The challenge to the ISS is to ensure that its half-baked theories do not inflame a narrative in the public domain that fuels islamophobia. All the allegations it has made, awaits substantiation and credible evidence which can be held up in a court of law.

Dr. Mustafa Mheta

Senior researcher/Head of Africa Desk

Media Review Network

South Africa