President Mnangagwa takes part in an urgent regional meeting in Maputo today to “deliberate on measures to address terrorism” in Mozambique.
The SADC Extraordinary “Double Troika” Summit was called for by Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, who is chair of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
The other two members of the Troika are Zimbabwe, which was the previous chair of the organ and South Africa, which is the next chair.
Another group of three countries are participating.
Mozambique, the host country and current chair of SADC, Malawi which will be the next SADC chair, and Tanzania, which was the last SADC chair. While the three countries are a troika of chairs of SADC, they are also the host and affected countries plus two of its neighbours. The security troika includes another two neighbours.
Although terrorist activities by the insurgents who claim affiliation to the Islamic State (IS) began in 2017, what has captured international attention is the March 24 attack on Palma, a coastal town of more than 100 000 people in Cabo Delgado Province that is near a US$60 billion gas project being developed by French energy giant Total.
In a statement on Tuesday, the SADC secretariat said the region was “deeply concerned about the continued terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado, especially for the lives and welfare of the residents who continue to suffer from the atrocious, brutal and indiscriminate assaults”.
According to President Masisi, who was recently in Zimbabwe to brief President Mnangagwa on the latest developments, the attacks were an affront to the peace and security of Mozambique, the region and international community as a whole.
The African Union has since called for urgent and coordinated regional and international action.
The insurgent activities have so far claimed close to 3 000 lives and displaced about 700 000 Mozambicans over the past three years.
There have been a series of regional meetings meant to find a lasting solution to the conflict.
On May 19 last year, an Extraordinary SADC Organ Troika Summit of Heads of State and Government on Mozambique was held at State House in Harare.
At the meeting, the bloc reiterated that the terrorist activities were in breach of the SADC Declaration on Terrorism and the AU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism.
It was followed by another Extraordinary Organ Troika Summit in Botswana on November 27, where SADC directed the finalisation of a comprehensive regional response and support for Mozambique to be urgently considered.
In December, members of the Organ met again in Maputo and were apprised of the fighting in Cabo Delgado.
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi also briefed regional leaders about the support that had been offered by Britain, the United States, Portugal and Ireland.
There are fears that if the conflict is allowed to fester, it will likely spill into other countries in the region.
SADC countries are bound by the Mutual Defence Pact of 2003, which identifies a threat against one-member state as a threat against the region.
Article Six of the Mutual Defence Pact states that “an armed attack against a State Party shall be considered a threat to regional peace and security and such an attack shall be met with immediate collective action”.