Sadc vows 'proportionate' response to Mozambique's jihadists


An internally displaced man arrives in Pemba on April 1, 2021, from the boat of evacuees from the coasts of Palma. 

Photo credit: AFP

Southern African leaders have agreed on an “immediate technical deployment to help Mozambique fight Islamic insurgents who recently stepped up attacks against civilians in the northern parts of the country.

A Southern African Development Community (Sadc) emergency summit held in Maputo on Thursday resolved to revive the regional block’s Force Intervention Brigade in preparation for a military intervention.

The meeting that was attended by Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Malawi’s Lazarus Chakwera, Botswana’s Mokgweetsi Masisi, Zanzibar’s Hussein Mwinyi and the host Filipe Nyusi came two weeks after the Islamic insurgents launched a deadly attack on Palma in the Cabo Delgado province.

The brazen attack saw dozens being killed while thousands were displaced before the two was retaken by government forces last week.

“Double Troika Summit directed an immediate technical deployment to the Republic of Mozambique and the convening of an extraordinary meeting of the ministerial committee of the organ by 28 April 2021 that will report to the extraordinary organ troika summit on 29 April 2021,” SADC said in a communique after the Maputo summit.

The regional leaders said they had “noted with concern the acts of terrorism perpetrated against innocent civilians, women and children in the some of the districts of Cabo Delgado province of the Republic of Mozambique, condemned the terrorist attacks in strongest terms and affirmed that such heinous attacks cannot be allowed to continue without a proportionate regional response.”

Upon his return to Harare, President Mnangagwa told journalists that the regional leaders had agreed that military intervention was necessary in Mozambique.

“Yes, what is happening now is that the defence and security chiefs have the responsibility of implementing the decisions of the Double Troika,” he said.

President Masisi, who also chairs the SADC organ on defence, politics and security said the security situation in Mozambique threatened regional stability.

“We all agree that the deteriorating security situation in the northern province of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique is indeed a serious threat to peace and security, not only in our sister country but also in the whole region and humanity at large,” he said.

“In particular, the recent attacks in the town of Palma have recently demonstrated the magnitude of the problem at our doorsteps.”

The Mozambican crisis worsened dramatically on March 25 when an armed Islamist armed group linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) besieged the gas-rich town of Palma in northern Cabo Delgado province, killings hundreds of civilians and displacing thousands of others.

Cabo Delgado has been under siege from the Ansar al-Sunna group, known locally as Al-Shabaab which is not linked to insurgents in Somalia going by the, since 2017, but the conflict has intensified in recent months.