Kudakwashe Mugari in MAPUTO, Mozambique
SADC countries are closely monitoring the improving security situation in Mozambique and mapping out strategies to ensure insurgency activities in northern parts of the country are tackled appropriately.
This emerged at an Extraordinary Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation Summit held in Maputo yesterday, which was attended by President Mnangagwa (immediate-past Troika chair) and presidents Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana (Troika chair), Cyril Ramaphosa South Africa (incoming Troika chair) and host president, Filipe Nyusi.
Tanzania was represented by Vice President Samia Suluhu.
Presidents Mnangagwa, Masisi and Ramaphosa make up the SADC Troika.
The Extraordinary Summit also discussed economic cooperation and strides made in fighting Covid-19, including the need to urgently provide relief to thousands of Mozambicans who have lost livelihoods in the wake of the disturbances in Cabo Delgado Province.
Speaking to journalists after the day-long meeting, President Mnangagwa said the meeting resolved that Western nations could only provide humanitarian support and not interfere in matters affecting the region.
“We made a decision to come to Maputo as a follow-up to a meeting held in Harare where we asked Mozambique to give us a comprehensive report on the fighting in Cabo Delgado Province. We had a meeting in Gaborone (Botswana) last month but President Nyusi didn’t come because he had other commitments. Then he invited us to brief us on the situation and that is why we are here.
“Concerning the security situation, President Nyusi told us that the situation had improved, but the people in Cabo Delgado need humanitarian assistance. President Nyusi also told us that Britain, the United States, Portugal and Ireland approached Mozambique to offer support in the fight against the terrorists and the discussions are still going on.”
President Mnangagwa said the security issue in Mozambique was a SADC matter that would be discussed again in March next year when the next meeting sits.
As the then chairperson of the SADC Organ on Defence and Security, President Mnangagwa oversaw the crafting of a regional response against the Islamist insurgency in northern Mozambique.
Yesterday’s meeting was a continuation of last month’s engagement in Gaborone where another extraordinary meeting of leaders discussed steps to help end the insurgency, which has left more than 3 000 people dead and thousands more homeless.
Aid groups estimate that attacks on civilians have displaced close to 400 000 people during three years of Islamist terrorism.
Cabo Delgado has vast oil and gas deposits estimated to be worth US$60 billion but owing to the threats from militants, development of the natural resources has been slow.
“We discussed the development of a port, which is important for our economic growth. The port will benefit Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. We took South Africa in after they asked to be part of the deal and we agreed to take them on board,” President Mnangagwa said.
SADC countries, particularly Zimbabwe, use three major Mozambican ports of Maputo, Beira and Nacala for imports and exports.
Zimbabwe exports its sugar using a railway line from Chiredzi to Maputo via Sango Border Post and Chikwalakwala.
President Mnangagwa warned that the fight against Covid-19 was still on, with the summit discussing how the region will respond to vaccines that have been developed around the world.
“SADC is concerned about Covid-19 so we discussed its impact and the new vaccines; what vaccines to accept and what not to accept.
“We tasked our health ministers to research, discuss and make recommendations.”
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo, Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Philip Sibanda and Deputy Chief Secretary in the President’s Office and Cabinet responsible for communication, Mr George Charamba, attended yesterday’s meeting.
The President returned home last night after the summit and was received at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, service chiefs and senior Government officials.