President Cyril Ramaphosa Picture: Siyabulela Duda
President Cyril Ramaphosa Picture: Siyabulela Duda

All eyes on SADC Mozambique talks

By Vernon Mchunu, Lorna Charles Time of article published Apr 8, 2021

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DURBAN - WHILE today’s meeting of heads of state over strife-torn Mozambique could come up with a road map towards lasting peace and security, a military intervention was unlikely to be agreed upon, according to a senior researcher from the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to join his counterparts in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Maputo for “extraordinary” talks in the wake of the ongoing violence mainly in Mozambique’s northern most province of Cabo Delgado.

The Presidency said in a statement the Extraordinary Double Troika Summit was preceded by a multi-ministerial meeting yesterday, which included International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) Minister Naledi Pandor, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, among others from the SADC community.

The Presidency said the SADC, currently chaired by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, was deeply concerned about the continued terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado, especially for the lives and welfare of the residents who continued to suffer from the atrocious, brutal and indiscriminate assaults.

The ISS’s Martin Ewi said it was most unlikely the meeting would emerge with a resolution to engage an SADC military intervention, adding that so far Maputo had made it clear that the country’s military machinery was capable of defending the country on its own.

“Indeed the meeting will be characterised by a robust debate. The SADC is expected to be seen to be doing something about the insurgency. So what they are likely to do is announce a fact-finding mission and a road map towards lasting peace and security for Mozambique and the rest of the SADC community. But I don’t see the meeting agreeing on a military intervention involving member states,” Ewi said.

“What we are likely to see is an agreement on a humanitarian intervention, which would include the provision of food, shelter and medical supplies for victims as well as evacuation for those people who want to go back to their countries,” he said.

Some of the displaced people had reportedly fled to the nearby port city of Pemba, and were living in hotels or crammed into schools, makeshift tented camps and sports grounds.

Asked if he thought the insurgency could be losing momentum in the wake of the recent announcement by the Mozambican army that it had managed to kill a number of militias and gained control of the town of Palma, Ewi disagreed.

“The militia’s presence is actually on the increase. There are reports of forced conscription around the villages in the province,” he said.

Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the ministry could not comment on the position South Africa was bringing to the table as it still had to be discussed.

The DA said the meetings yesterday and today would be meaningless if a military intervention was not considered.

“Following the bloodshed in Palma last weekend, which claimed the life of one South African and trapped a number of others in the area, military intervention is the only possible step to stop the violence and restore security,” said Kobus Marais, the DA spokesperson on defence.

“An SADC force, fully supported and funded by the SADC, the AU and other partners, will have the necessary capacity to engage in rapid combat intervention to stop the insurgency. The problems in Mozambique have the potential to destabilise the entire SADC region.”

Meanwhile, the extended family of Durban man Adrian Nel, who was killed by insurgents in Palma, are trying to raise R1 million to support his family.

Nel was driving his father Greg and brother Wesley in a vehicle that was part of a convoy trying to escape from the Amarula Hotel with other foreign contractors on March 26. He was shot while driving out of the hotel but he continued to drive.

The Mercury spoke to Nel’s mother Meryl Knox, who said while they were still reeling from shock, they wanted to ensure her son’s widow and their three young children would be taken care of.

The family have set up the Adrian Nel Family Foundation Trust on the crowdfunding site BackaBuddy.

In a post on the fund-raising page, the family said Nel had worked as a qualified commercial diver in the Republic of Congo for the past five years but could not continue working due to the impact of Covid-19. He took a job in Palma, Mozambique, in January to assist his brother and father in constructing workers’ accommodation camps.

Knox said: “It shouldn’t have happened. They should not have been left to fend for themselves against such terrible odds.”

THE MERCURY

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