If Africa needs African solutions, why is Moz running to EU for help?
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By Professor Themba Sono
During the halcyon days of Thabo Mbeki’s presidency, we were regaled with the lyricism of the African Renaissance, among which were borrowings from the first president of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, that Africa was for Africans and African problems required African solutions.
There was pride in being African, especially in southern Africa, which was subjected to a virulent form of racist domination.
But that era is gone and we have reverted to the begging bowl mentality of yore. I heard the Mozambican bugle to Europe.
The Mozambican government, led by President Filipe Nyusi, has requested the EU’s support in tackling a wave of attacks by rebels linked to the Islamic State and the al-Shabaab murderers. The Islamist attacks in Cabo Delgado province began in 2017, but have gathered pace. The insurgents seized important towns and hit military and other key targets before retreating.
The Nyusi government sent a letter to the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, requesting help in training its armed forces. The letter also requested medical and humanitarian assistance.
Why does the Frelimo government, which fought for many years against the Renamo insurgency and defeated it, feel the need to ask Europe to help against this Islamic State Central Africa Group insurgency? The Frelimo did do without European training. Why is it imperative to do so now?
The Islamist jihadists are a menace in Africa as is evident in Somalia, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso. France has sent it’s forces to confront the Islamists in the Sahel. Mozambique should have first requested help from the Southern African Development Community since the Mozambican president is the SADC chair and its neighbour, South Africa, is AU chair.
Did Nyusi not consult President Cyril Ramaphosa before asking the EU for help? Shouldn’t Ramaphosa, the AU chair, have been the one to consult his EU counterpart? Or, did Nyusi perhaps lack confidence in African capacity and competence?
But, of course, we are in Africa and things are not always logical. I also wonder whether Nyusi consulted his colleague in Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, who is chairing the SADC’s politics, defence and security council.
If so, what did they think of Nyusi running to Europe and ignoring Africa?