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Mozambique/Global: War, Intervention, and Solidarity
May 31, 2021 (2021-05-31)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
“No amount of international military assistance will, within two years, create a fighting force that can combat the insurgency. Two other factors complicate external support. Foreign intervention is likely to provoke a response from Islamic State to provide weapons and training to the insurgents. And the fight is already underway between factions in Frelimo over the upcoming 2024 elections. Cabo Delgado politics and economics, the police and military, and the war itself are already caught up in the bitter infighting. Thus the war seems likely to escalate and continue until a new president is in place in 2025.” - Joseph Hanlon
Long-time subscribers to AfricaFocus Bulletin will know that I occasionally publish two Bulletins on one day (although not more than 4 times a year). This Bulletin (available at http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/moz2105a.php) and its companion Bulletin on Mozambique/Global: Fossil Fuels, Debt, and Corruption (http://www.africafocus.org/docs21/moz2105b.php) are the first such double-posting this year. The reasons are both personal and analytical, given my editorial criterion of focusing on developments relevant for the entire continent and for the world, as well as one particular country. This editorial note is also longer than usual, although even so it points to more questions than answers.
First, it's personal for me, since Mozambique has been the African
country to which I have had the most personal ties for more than 50
years, since first arriving in Dar es Salaam to teach at the FRELIMO
secondary school in 1966. My time actually living and working with
Mozambicans, first in Tanzania and then in Mozambique and working
with Mozambicans only amounts to five years in the 1960s and 1970s.
And my occasional visits for research or conferences in the decades
since then have been far less frequent than I would have wished. But
like my Mozambican friends and others who have worked in that
country, I am acutely and painfully aware that Mozambique is now
suffering its third war over the last six decades.
All three have been the result of complex interactions of national,
regional, and global factors. The armed struggle for independence
lasted 10 years, from 1964 to the 1974 agreement for transition to
independence in 1975. The post-independence war from 1976 to the
peace agreement in 1992 was simultaneously a regional war fueled by
Rhodesia and South Africa and an internal conflict. And the present
“insurgency” in the northeastern province of Cabo Delgado is driven
both by internal discontent and by a mix of external factors. It
began in October 2017 and has escalated sharply since March 2020,
drawing increased international news coverage and debate.
But much of that coverage is superficial and focused on the single
issue of whether external actors should intervene militarily or not,
and if not, which of the numerous candidates to do so should step up
first. Within Mozambique and the Southern African region, there is a
much better informed debate by both scholars, civil society
activists, and in the media about the causes of the conflict and
what kind of response is needed from Africa and the global
international community, prioritizing humanitarian assistance and
development rather than a military solution.
[Those who know me will know that I am normally not a fan of webinars, which often supply less solid content than the time they take to watch. But this 2-hour webinar hosted by SAPES Trust on May 27 (https://www.facebook.com/sapestrust/videos/1076962609494070) is an exception. These are real experts from Mozambique and the region with in-depth knowledge of the issues engaged in real debate. No answers, but keen insights and eloquent presentations. A must-watch for anyone wanting to understand the real options for international response to the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Cabo Delgado.]
Mozambique's Cabo Delgado is now a central test case for whether
lessons have been learned from the consistent failures of such a
military solution in Mali, Somalia, and northeastern Nigeria. Sadly,
it is likely to be a protracted repetition of such mistakes, with
the added complexity of the interests of multinational natural gas
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts on the war in Cabo Delgado from recent newsletters by Joseph Hanlon. The situation is rapidly changing, but Hanlon regularly provides updates, links to other sources in English and Portuguese, and well-informed analysis. You can subscribe to his newsletter at https://bit.ly/Moz-sub.
My apologies for the length of this comment and of these two
Bulletins. If you do not have time to read them now, I hope that you
will put them aside for later reference. For now, however, I have
- Do read and watch this first short on-the-scene report from the conflict zone in Cabo Delgado, from May 27, 2021, by veteran BBC journalist Catherine Byaruhanga, who is based in Uganda (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-57254543).
"Today, on one of the islands - Quirimba - rows of white tarpaulin tents line the white sandy beaches. We are the first international journalists to arrive here since the attack on Palma. More than 9,000 people from different parts of Cabo Delgado are seeking shelter here.
Thirty-two-year-old Mamo Sufo from Palma and her three young children arrived at the island just days before we did.
By this point, it was nearly two months since the town was overrun but she's spent all that time travelling to Quitunda and other villages before taking a boat to Quirimba where she hopes other family members will join her.
She started her journey seven months pregnant, but while out at sea she went into pre-term labour and her son died." - Catherine Byaruhanga
- Do read this summary of the report on the hidden debts, from the Mozambique News Agency, May 29, 2021 (https://allafrica.com/stories/202105290201.html), and
- Take a break from the news by watching the short music video embedded at the end of this Bulletin (a new feature I added last week, featuring videos I have found it essential to watch while taking breaks from writing subjects which more often feature grim realities than hope for change. The videos I choose are not linked to the specific theme of each Bulletin, but they definitely illustrate the visions of the resilience and hope needed both by Africa and the world.)
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Mozambique, visit http://www.africafocus.org/country/mozambique.php
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on peace and conflict in Africa, visit http://www.africafocus.org/intro-peace.php
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++
Mozambique: News Reports and Clippings
545 - part 1 - 16 May 2021
Editor: Joseph Hanlon ( firstname.lastname@example.org)
To subscribe or unsubscribe: https://bit.ly/Moz-sub
Articles may be freely reprinted but please cite the source.
This newsletter in pdf is on http://bit.ly/Moz-545-gas
Part 1 - security
Security will be at the top of the agenda when President Filipe
Nyusi meets French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday (18 May) in
Paris. Also in Paris will be Antonio Costa, who is both Portuguese
Prime Minister and President of the Council of the European Union
(EU), and he will probably also meet with Nyusi. But their agendas
will be very different. Macron wants Nyusi to agree on a French
security cordon so Total can return to Afungi. Costa wants
Portuguese soldiers in Mozambique, preferably under an EU umbrella.
Total's declaration of force majeure and its complete
withdrawal from Afungi means it does not expect to return soon -
definitely not this year. But it has to return within two years.
Longer than that will require renegotiating contracts - with buyers,
contractors and the Mozambique government, And a delay in production
to 2026 or 2027 will require rethinking about whether or not there
is a long term market for gas (discussed in part 2 of this special
What Total decides determines what happened to the other large
gas block (area 4), which is run by Exxon Mobil (with a 28% stake).
Exxon has repeatedly delayed it final investment decision, now
pushed back to 2023, and will not agree before Total is back at
work. Area 4 has China's only gas investment in Mozambique; China
National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has a 12% stake. The
newsletter China-Lusophone Brief (30 Mar) says this
investment in now imperilled. So what happens in the next two years
determines the future of not just Total, but Exxon and its partners
No amount of international military assistance will, within two
years, create a fighting force that can combat the insurgency. Two
other factors complicate external support. Foreign intervention is
likely to provoke a response from Islamic State to provide weapons
and training to the insurgents. And the fight is already underway
between factions in Frelimo over the upcoming 2024 elections. Cabo
Delgado politics and economics, the police and military, and the war
itself are already caught up in the bitter infighting. Thus the war
seems likely to escalate and continue until a new president is in
place in 2025.
After being misled by President Nyusi in March about the ability
of the Mozambican defence forces to protect Palma and Afungi, Macron
will probably tell Nyusi that Total will only return if France has
complete control of a large security zone. This will be hard for
Frelimo to swallow and there will be delay, but they want the gas
money and will eventually agree - especially if there is another
successful attack on Palma.
. . .
Multiple foreign players
With Mozambique's defence forces (FDS) weak, divided and corrupt -
and now at the centre of high level fights inside Frelimo - the FDS
has little chance of winning a purely military war against guerrilla
insurgents. That leaves two alternatives. One way is to resolve the
grievances that are at the root of the war, sharing the resource
wealth and creating thousands of jobs. That is unacceptable, because
so many people are profiting, and because if Mozambique admits the
cause of war is poverty and inequality, it is effectively admitting
responsibility. The alternative route is to blame external
aggression by Islamic State (IS) and call on outsiders to join the
new holy war against IS. And this is the route that Frelimo has
Four countries and two international bodies have shown some
interest in joining the war: the United States, Portugal, South
Africa and Rwanda, as well as the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) and the EU. Because of Total, France is also a
possible player, although it might prefer to stick to its security
Portugal is sending an 140-person training
mission of whom 60 are already in Mozambique, training marines in
KaTembe and commandos in Chimoio.?Training will continue for three
years. Portuguese and Mozambican defence ministers Joao Cravinho and
Jamie Neto met in Lisbon 10 May and signed a five year military
United States (US) A dozen US special force
soldiers completed two months of training of Mozambican marines on 5
May, and another training session will start in July. On 10 March
the US called the insurgents "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-
Mozambique (ISIS-Mozambique)" and designated them as a "foreign
terrorist organisation". The US said on 6 May that it would provide
humanitarian assistance in response to what the US State Department
called "devastating violence by ISIS-affiliated terrorists".
Rwanda. President Nyusi flew to Rwanda on 28
April and met President Paul Kagame, who promised military help.
Just 10 days later, on 8 May, a Rwandan military mission was seen in
Southern African Development
Community (SADC) sent an assessment mission 15-21 April
which recommended a 3,000-person regional military force plus
submarines, surveillance aircraft and drones. SADC expects the EU
and US to fund the mission. It would take a year or more to get such
a mission on the ground. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
said on 10 May South Africa would join such a force if asked. But
Mozambique has not encouraged the SADC mission.
The European Union (EU) is divided and slow. The
European Union must move with “urgency” to step up its support for
Mozambique, said Josep Borrell, EU "foreign minister" (High
Representative for Foreign Affairs) on 6 May. But with a hint of
frustration, he continued: “We are considering a potential European
Union training mission, like the ones that we already have in
several African countries.” Borrell said any mission would be
similar to the EU’s involvement in the Sahel. He hoped a mission
could be sent to Mozambique before the end of the year, and
suggested sending 200-300 soldiers to Mozambique. Portugal currently
holds the EU’s six month rotating Council presidency, and has been
pushing for EU involvement in Mozambique. “Portugal has already
offered half of the staff [and] sent in advance military structures.
It will be integrated into the EU training mission, if we finally
agree on that,” said Borrell. But there is no agreement yet.
. . .
Does a military response ignore the roots of war?
The rush for military support has caused substantial debate. Many of the issues were raised in a letter from 30 African civil society organisations (CSOs) to SADC, in response to the proposal to send 3000 troops - a major military force. The CSOs' letter is on http://bit.ly/Moz-CSO-SADC.
It welcomes "collective action from SADC" but continues: "We urge
our leaders to consider the lessons learnt from other similar
conflicts in Africa. Sahel, Somalia, and the Niger Delta offer stark
contemporary reminders that a purely militaristic solution (devoid
of measures to address the causes of the insurgency) increases the
likelihood of its intractability. It is also unlikely to pave the
way towards achieving sustainable peace."
"Any SADC intervention should also provide avenues to pursue
political and diplomatic solutions to the conflict. This
necessitates an acute understanding of the root causes of the
conflict, push and pull factors that lead to the recruitment of
locals and youth into insurgency operations, and the motivations of
actors operating in the region." Creating a sustainable peace
requires creating "avenues for local communities to address their
grievances with government, which is paramount to addressing the
root causes of conflict."
And the CSO letter calls for "holding government and businesses
to the highest levels of accountability regarding their operations
in Cabo Delgado. Corruption, maladministration, and skewed
development are central to communities’ feelings of marginalization.
Ensuring that citizens receive the lion’s share of dividends from
gas revenue form part of broader longer-term socio-economic
solutions to insurgency."
Two key issues are raised by the CSOs' statement, the roots of
the war and danger that foreign military forces will remain
There is a quite broad agreement that the insurgency was
initially local and based on local grievances about growing poverty,
inequality and marginalisation. The division is about what happened
next. The US argues that the insurgency has been totally taken over
by IS which now commands and controls. But the respected
International Crisis Group say IS does not have "the ability to
exert command and control." Local researchers confirm that although
there is contact with IS, command and control remains local and the
grievances remain important for insurgent recruiting.
The CSOs stress the role of government and business in the
"skewed development", which effectively puts the blame for the war
on Frelimo and government. This suggests that diverting money from
those getting rich on the gas and minerals and instead using the
wealth to create jobs and development would play a key role in
ending the war.
It is also central to the interveners. The US, EU and others
would not support Mozambique to kill hungry, illiterate peasants
demanding a share of the wealth. But they would intervene in a war
against Islamic State.
And Frelimo and the Mozambique government are being very careful
that those who intervene do not talk about grievances and root
causes. Thus it supports intervention by foreign governments and
private military companies, which it can control, and not by
international bodies such as the UN, EU and SADC, which issue
statements it cannot control.
. . .
Mozambique: News Reports and Clippings
546 - 20 May 2021
This newsletter in pdf is on http://bit.ly/Moz-546
Total will return only with peace and tranquillity
“As soon as Cabo Delgado has peace again, Total will return,” the
president of the French oil and gas company, Patrick Pouyanee,
promised Monday (17 May). President Filipe Nyusi confirmed Tuesday
(18 May) that Total will return only when everything “is calm”.
“Total may demand that there is tranquillity and peace to develop
its economic projects," Nyusi added. (Lusa 18 May)
France has shown “complete willingness” to provide whatever is
necessary for Mozambique’s fight against terrorism in the northern
province of Cabo Delgado, according to President Filipe Nyusi after
his meeting in Paris with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron,
on Tuesday. (18 May) Nyusi said “we discussed in detail the
situation of terrorism. The matter is unavoidable. France has shown
great willingness, but it has left sovereignty in the hands of
Mozambicans”. To follow up, Nyusi said, the two countries must
advance quickly to sign the agreements which will define exactly the
type of support to be granted by France. (Mediafax 19 May) But it
remains unclear if Mozambique sovereignty will allow enough of a
French presence to guarantee the tranquillity and peace Total
Nyusi also met in Paris with Arnaud Pieton, executive
administrator of Technip, the principal offshore contractor. Pieton
said "we have received guarantees from the Mozambique government
that they are doing everything to reintroduce security, and this is
a fundamental condition for the project to be developed rapidly." (
O Pais 19 May)
Government still blocking aid to Palma; the focus on 'terrorists' makes it worse
There is still no aid reaching up to 20,000 people not being allowed to leave Quitunda near Palma. Finally Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has spoken out. "Significant restrictions are placed on the scale up of the humanitarian response due to the ongoing insecurity, and the bureaucratic hurdles impeding the importation of certain supplies and the issuing of visas for additional humanitarian workers," said Jonathan Whittall, MSF Director of Analysis, on 14 May. http://bit.ly/Moz-Palma-MSF
It is also made very difficult for foreigners to visit the area.
The UN was allowed to send a team to Quitunda on 21 April, but could
not negotiate aid access. After the visit, the International
Organization for Migration (IOM) called "for full humanitarian
access and a reduction of bureaucratic impediments, including the
issuing of visas [for UN experts], to ensure timely and efficient
delivery of humanitarian aid." There is also a need for "greater and
strategic engagement with the Government," said Laura Tomm-Bonde,
IOM's head of mission in Mozambique. But the call fell on deaf ears.
Whittall, too, recently visited but apparently without gaining
He writes: "What does seem set to scale up is the regionally
supported and internationally funded counter-terrorism operation
that could further impact already vulnerable people. In many
conflicts, from Syria to Iraq and Afghanistan, I have seen how
counter-terrorism operations can generate additional humanitarian
needs while limiting the ability of humanitarian workers to respond.
"Firstly, by designating a group as ‘terrorists’, we often see
that the groups in question are pushed further underground - making
dialogue with them for humanitarian access more complex. While
states can claim that they 'don’t negotiate with terrorists',
humanitarian workers are compelled to provide humanitarian aid
impartially and to negotiate with any group that controls territory
or that can harm our patients and staff."
"For Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), successfully providing
impartial medical care requires reserving a space for dialogue and
building trust in the fact that our presence in a conflict is for
the sole purpose of saving lives and alleviating suffering."
Whittall is showing why the Mozambique government is trying to
keep out the foreign humanitarian workers. The government says that
it cannot find anyone with whom it can negotiate. MSF says it can
"negotiate with any group that controls territory" - and clearly has
in Cabo Delgado.
"Counter-terrorism operations try to bring humanitarian
activities under the full control of the state and the military
coalitions that support them. Aid is denied, facilitated or provided
in order to boost the government’s credibility, to win hearts and
minds for the military intervening, or to punish communities that
are accused of sympathising with an opposition group. The most
vulnerable can often fall through the cracks of such an approach,
which is why organisations like MSF need to be able to work
independently. … Being aligned to a state that is fighting a
counter-terrorism war would reduce our ability to reach the most
vulnerable communities to offer medical care."
"In counter-terrorism wars around the world, we often see
civilian casualties being justified due to the presence of
‘terrorists’ among a civilian population. Entire communities can be
considered as ‘hostile’, leading to a loosening of the rules of
engagement for combat forces," Whittall writes.
And he concludes: "The current focus on ‘terrorism’ clearly
serves the political and economic interests of those intervening in
Mozambique. However, it must not come at the expense of saving lives
and alleviating the immense suffering facing the people of Cabo
548 - 30 May 2021
South Africa says send troops; Tanzania says no troops, instead negotiate, develop
South Africa is pressing for urgent military intervention in Cabo Delgado, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor told Reuters (21 May) in a telephone interview. Since 2008 SADC has had a regional defence pact that allows military intervention to prevent the spread of conflict. "We support the use of the defence pact. It's never been really been utilised in the region, but we believe this is the time, this is a threat to the region," Pandor said.
Tanzania will not send troops to Mozambique to counter insurgents in Cabo Delgado, Minister of Foreign Affairs Liberata Mulamula said Wednesday 26 May in Dar es Salaam. The Tanzania government has, instead, emphasised on the need for talks as a means of promoting peace and tranquility in Mozambique, calling on the international community to help the country by sending development aid. (Citizen 27 May)
A SADC evaluation proposed 3000 troops and equipment including a
submarine. The SADC summit scheduled to discuss this was postponed
from April to 27 May, and the summit simply postponed the issue
until a new summit on 20 June. President Filipe Nyusi's longstanding
opposition to a multi-lateral force and the opposition of some
countries such as Tanzania suggest the SADC force will never happen.
At the Frelimo Central Committee on 22-23 May, President Filipe
Nyusi made clear he wanted foreign troops. But in his closing
speech, he stressed the "concentration on bilateral efforts to
combat terrorism in Cabo Delgado". It is a point he has stressed in
private talks with diplomats for more than a year, that he does not
want international forces - SADC, EU or UN. Instead he wants
agreements with individual governments and the ability to move and
assign foreign troops to particular zones or tasks. SADC or UN
troops would have their own external commanders, but Frelimo will
only accept foreign troops that it controls - which means private
military companies (PMCs) or bilateral arrangements with
Will Rwandan troops create the Total security zone?
Rwandan troops may play a central role in creating the security
zone around the Palma-Afungi natural gas area. Rwanda has become a
major participant in peacekeeping missions and has had troops or
police in Central African Republic, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan and
other countries. But more three-way discussions will be needed
between France, Rwanda, and Mozambique.
On 28 April Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi flew to Rwanda for
talks with President Paul Kagame. Just 10 days later a
reconnaissance team of Rwandan officers was in Cabo Delgado. Nyusi
and Kagame were in Paris for the French Africa summit 17-18 May;
both met President Emmanuel Macron and Cabo Delgado was discussed.
Last week Marcon was in Rwanda and South Africa to meet their
presidents on 27 and 28 May. Again, Cabo Delgado was discussed,
although not top of the agenda.
France’s acceptance in a report this year that it bore a
responsibility for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda marked a “big step
forward” in repairing relations between the two countries, which are
now on the mend, Kagame said.
After the fiasco of President Nyusi guaranteeing a security zone
including Palma just days before the insurgents took Palma against
little resistance, Total wants more than just promises. It will
demand overall French control of any security zone, and French navy
control of the ocean off of Cabo Delgado. Mozambique will demand
that its soldiers are on the ground, but will accept a foreign
presence. Rwanda fits the bill. For Mozambique, Rwandan troops are
more acceptable than South African soldiers. For France and Total,
Rwandan troops are well trained and experienced, and much more
effective than Mozambican army or police. Improved relations between
France and Rwanda complete the package.
Who will be top dog?
An increasing number of countries want part of the action, and
there is a quiet struggle as to who will be top dog. On the ground
Portugal has 60 soldiers doing training, the US just finished its
first training mission, Rwanda has a military investigation team,
and South Africa has had private military companies and sent in
soldiers to rescue its civilians after the Palma attack. Off shore,
France and South Africa have regular naval patrols and the United
States and India have had less frequent patrols.
French President Emmanuel Macron travelled to Africa and met
Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Thursday 26 May and South African
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday, 28 May. In both countries, the
Cabo Delgado war was on the agenda. In South Africa Macron said
France is available to assist the Mozambican military, but only in
the "'context of a political solution". And any help "should be an
African response at the request of Mozambique and coordinated with
the neighbouring countries," he said. The interest of both Rwanda
and South Africa is that France and the EU pay for their
Macron particularly stressed that France already has a regional
presence in its island territories of Mayotte and Reunion, and stood
ready to offer naval assistance. "We have frigates and some other
vessels in the region and on a regular basis organise operations. So
we could be available, and very quickly so, if requested," he said.
Meanwhile EU foreign policy head Josep Borrell said on 28 May
that the EU could have a military training mission in Mozambique in
months. "The problem will be to look for capacities. Apart from
Portugal, who else is going to contribute?"
Saudi Arabia is working with SADC to support the Mozambican
military fight the insurgents, Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman said
on 20 May. There is a certain irony in this, as many Mozambicans
have been trained in Saudi Arabia in fundamentalist Islam.
The United States is now beefing up the embassy's security
advisory team with the help of private military contractors (PMCs).
A new adviser to head up the counter-terrorism programme will be
provided by one of the Pentagon subcontractors bidding for the
contract, reports Africa Intelligence (28 May), a Paris
based newsletter which backs Paris in its confrontation with
Washington. The US has been strongly critical of the use by
Mozambique of PMCs, despite their being extensively used by the US
in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Difficult negotiations are ahead as Mozambique desperately tries
to keep support fractured and in pieces it can control, and at least
four countries want to be top dog:
United States: Wants a base in southern Africa and
has long coveted Nacala, with its big airport and deep water port
that would be good for submarines. Mozambique could be its new base
for the war against Islamic State. Mozambique could be the new
Afghanistan or Libya.
France: Wants control of the gas zone but appears
willing to accept Rwandan fighters. But will expect to control
South Africa: Wants to assert itself as the
regional power but has been cutting the military budget, so hoping
the EU will pay.
Portugal: The military of the former colonial power
want to return and prove their ex-colony still needs them. They are
using their position as president of the EU to gain EU backing for
None of these four has won a recent war against a guerrilla
insurgency. Frelimo won a guerrilla independence war 47 years ago,
but has never beaten a guerrilla force.
Fighters or job creators?
As governments try to militarise Cabo Delgado, civil society
groups increasingly stress the need to resolve the roots of the war
- growing poverty and inequality, youth seeing no jobs and no
future, and the belief that the Frelimo elite are eating all the
wealth from rubies, gas, and other resources.
Speaking to Reuters, [South African] Foreign Minister Pandor said
“We have had our colleagues, for example in Nigeria, saying: ‘don’t
allow this to get out of hand because once it does it is
uncontrollable and very difficult to reverse’. So, that is why we
believe it is urgently necessary that we have action.” Academic
analysts point to the similarity to the roots of Boko Haram in
Nigeria and al Shabaab in Cabo Delgado. Both are groups in Muslim
areas where young people feel marginalised and with no future, and
they are recruited on that basis. Thus the "don’t allow this to get
out of hand" lesson is the need to create jobs and development
before the war gets out of hand. It is, contrary to Pandor, not
military but development intervention that is urgent.
Three articles from the South African mainstream establishment
point to alternative thinking:
"Suicidal SADC military deployment to Mozambique looms" was the headline of an opinion article in the Johannesburg Business Day (28 May) "SA soldiers will return home in body bags, as was the case in the failed military deployment to the Central African Republic in March 2013. The defence force must serve sovereign national interests and not the interests of private actors working for profit." The article argues that South Africa government is under pressure from national corporations and France to protect the profits of their investors.
The article continues: "Like France and its transnational
corporation Total, the LNG project in Mozambique is critically
important for SA and its corporations. SA state financiers the
Industrial Development corporation (IDC), the Export Credit
Insurance Corporation (ECIC) and the Development Bank of Southern
Africa (DBSA) have, in total, lent more than $1bn in public funds to
the LNG project. Standard Bank has sunk $485m into the project, and
other major players include Absa and Rand Merchant Bank."
The article is written by Sam Hargreaves, director of
WoMin/African Women Activists, and Anabela Lemos of Justica
Ambiental/Friends of the Earth Mozambique. The article's publication
in a mainstream business newspaper suggests opposition to
militarization of Cabo Delgado is gaining a hearing.
"Regional support is a good start, but much more than a SADC military deployment to Mozambique is needed," according to a 27 May report from the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) of South Africa. "At the root of the conflict is a governance challenge that includes allegations of deeply entrenched corruption in the ruling party, Frelimo. Poor governance and state absence have antagonised the local population and left a security vacuum. … The government must commit to the development and effective governance of the region."
Military support may be needed to contain the violence. But the
report stresses "the education system must be reinvigorated to train
and prepare locals for skills suited to new job opportunities.
Authorities in Cabo Delgado would also need to invest in public
works programmes to complement job creation in the formal and
informal sectors and offer social activities such as sport to engage
the youth. An important poverty-alleviation measure would be a cash
transfer (or social grants) programme that would directly benefit
the community and demonstrate the government’s commitment to
"Maputo needs to own and drive the response to the insurgency and
the recovery of local and investor confidence. No amount of private
security advice, support or foreign troops and equipment can
compensate for political leadership and the establishment of trust
between people, the government and regional actors." Lead author of
the report is Jakkie Cilliers, founder and former Executive Director
of ISS - another indication that senior establishment figures are
pointing to the roots of the conflict.
"Regional military intervention in Mozambique is a bad idea," wrote Gilbert M. Khadiagala, Professor of International Relations at the University of the Witwatersrand, on 27 May. He argues "SADC interventions in internal conflicts in its neighbourhood haven’t worked out well." In 1998 Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe intervened in Lesotho. "South African troops lost their lives and SADC troops had to withdraw in ignominy. The SADC has since had to continually intervene as a peacemaker in the fractious terrain of Lesotho politics."
The other major intervention was by Malawi, Tanzania and South
Africa to defeat the M23 Movement in the Democratic Republic of
Congo (DRC) in 2013. Initially it made a difference. "But the
militia menace in the region has continued unabated, raising
questions about the long term efficacy of the brigade’s work," notes
More generally, military interventions in resource curse civil
wars only make matters worse, he says, citing South Sudan, Cabinda
in Angola, and the Niger Delta.
"SADC is now being asked to intervene in a conflict [in
Mozambique] that it has neither resources nor the political will to
manage. When the body bags begin to come home, there will be
tremendous pressure on SADC forces to withdraw. Rather than the
folly of an intervention, the region should be encouraging the
Mozambican state to address the grievances of the communities in
Cabo Delgado." Khadiagala concludes: "SADC’s military intervention
will only embolden die-hards in Frelimo who are reluctant to find
peaceful and political solutions to the crisis. And the intervention
will postpone a problem that is not going to go away any time soon."
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