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The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) recently met in Maputo to discuss the deployment of a 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 of cracks within 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 who now seem reluctant to allow a SADC intervention force in that part of the country leaving us with a lot of questions than answers. Why is the Mozambican government procrastinating? Is there something that they are hiding there? or, where they just crying wolf to the SADC region that there is ISIS in their country? Or is the Mozambican government afraid the world will get to know the truth that the insurgency in Cabo Delgado has got nothing to do with Islam as we have always been saying?

The answer is clearly, yes, Islam has got 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 that is being fuelled by the citizens disgruntlements about government neglecting them and refusing to share natural resources found in that part of the country.

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. Him and President Nyusi are from the Makonde tribe, and he is the one who handpicked Nyusi to succeed him. This could perhaps explain why President Nyusi owes him a lot. Him and a few elites in Frelimo, are accused of being responsible for what obtains 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 their troops despite the fact that they share borders with the affected province says a lot. This could also explain why he President Nyusi is going as far as Rwanda to ask President Paul Kagame to give him troops.

Is the Rwandan army more experienced that the South African National Defence Forces (SANDF), Zimbabwe Defence Forces (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 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 cooperation 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 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 tension in Mozambique, may not just prove what we have always believed all along, i.e., the Mozambican government protecting foreign interests ahead of the local one’s.

President Nyusi must see reason and never allow a situation whereby the founding president of Mozambique the incorruptible Comrade Samora Moises Machel to turn 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.


Dr. Mustafa Mheta

Senior researcher/Head of Africa Desk

Media Review Network

South Africa