PRETORIA: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday opened the extraordinary organ troika summit in Lilongwe, Malawi, being held to review the Southern African Development Community (SADC) military mission to combat terrorism in Mozambique.
Host Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera the president of Malawi and chairperson of the SADC chaired the summit, which was initially scheduled to take place virtually from January 5 to 7, 2022.
“We meet today almost six months after the Extraordinary SADC Summit which approved the deployment of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM), to combat terrorism and acts of violent extremism in Cabo Delgado Province,” said Ramaphosa the chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation.
SAMIM has been tasked with neutralising the terrorist threat and restoring security to create a secure environment; strengthening and maintaining peace and security; and restoring public security, law, and order in affected areas.
“As we all recall, we met in Pretoria on 5 October, 2021 and agreed to extend SAMIM with the same mandate for another three months until 15 January, 2022,” said Ramaphosa.
“As I am addressing you for the first time this year, may I extend warm compliments of the New Year to you all, and also convey the best wishes of my government for your prosperity and that of the region, as we start this year.
“A year that promises to be a busy year in the calendar of SADC.”
Ramaphosa said SADC continues to confront terrorism and acts of violent extremism in some parts of Cabo Delgado Province, in Mozambique.
“As a region, we resolved that acts of terrorism and violent extremism, that have led to loss of lives, property and displacement of people, especially women and children, cannot be allowed to continue without a proportionate response,” said the South African president.
He said since the deployment of SAMIM in Mozambique, significant progress has been made.
The security situation in Cabo Delgado was improving, which has allowed for some internally displaced persons to return to their homes and resume their normal lives.
“The efforts of our mission, working in collaboration with the Mozambican Defence Force, has created safe passage to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance to the population affected by terrorist activities,” said Ramaphosa.
“I wish to express appreciation and commend the work of SAMIM on the ground.
“I equally appreciate and commend member states who have supported this work financially and through the deployment of personnel and equipment.
“While we note the gains of this mission, there have also been challenges. We are saddened by the casualties suffered by SAMIM and the Mozambican Defence Force.
“I wish to extend our deepest condolences to the governments of Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, the United Republic of Tanzania, and my government, South Africa, for the demise of our brave sons, who were lost in the line of duty.”
Ramaphosa said the SADC will forever cherish their service and contribution to peace and security in the region.
“We also extend our best wishes for the speedy recovery of those who were wounded in action,” said Ramaphosa.
“As we consider the agenda before us, we are cognisant of the magnitude of ground that still needs to be covered in the work of SAMIM.
“Therefore, we cannot let our guard down.”
Ramaphosa said terrorism cannot be permitted to continue to thrive in any part of the SADC region as its presence will reverse the stability and progress achieved in its four decades of existence.
“Our meeting today must indicate a strengthened commitment to defeat and uproot terrorism from our region,” said Ramaphosa.