The Southern African Development Community has moved closer to taking action against the Islamist terrorists who have left a bloody trail of decapitated heads in the northern Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique.
President Masisi of Botswana, Chair of SADC’s security troika, indicated after talks in Harare with previous Chair President Mnangagwa that SADC was likely to take military action ‘to ensure the integrity and sovereignty of one of our own now being assailed by dissidents’. He said he had already had talks with the third member of the troika President Ramaphosa of South Africa (see: https://www.herald.co.zw/sadc-talks-tough-on-mozambique-bandits/).
A four-year insurgency by Islamist militants has seen many people killed and some 650,000 displaced. The Mozambican government has had to call on private military contractors from South Africa and Russia for help, but the Russians withdrew after heavy losses.
In the latest fighting, Islamic State militants seized the town of Palma threatening a nearby US$20 billion French Total company exploiting natural gas reserves. The South African mercenaries used helicopters to rescue some people from the town, one of them a man desperately disguised as a woman, but Total refused to supply fuel when the helicopters ran low.
The UK redeployed some of its soldiers from Kenya to help the rescue but expatriates were among the hundred or so people killed, casting doubt over the future of the regional oil development – at US$60 billion the biggest in Africa (see: https://www.herald.co.zw/attacks-threaten-mozambiques-future/).
Martin Ewi of the Institute for Strategic Studies in South Africa has urged South Africa to send in troops to end what he called ‘the reign of terror’ by Islamic State jihadists who wanted to establish Sharia Law not only in Cabo Delgado but all over Mozambique.
He said there was a possibility of attacks spreading to neighbouring South Africa and Zimbabwe adding that there were already active Islamic State cells in South Africa. ‘We need a regional response in order to make sure that even if we eliminate the Islamic State in Mozambique, it will not pop up somewhere else – which is most likely if we deal with this purely as a Mozambican problem,’ Ewi said (See: https://www.biznews.com/africa/2021/03/30/isis-mozambique-sa).
A correspondent for the UK Times, Jane Flanagan, has filed a graphic report for the paper headlined ‘Expats in Mozambique faced a ring of murderous jihadists. It was do or die.’
Flanagan says a Zimbabwean construction firm boss, Brendon Bekker, went to Palma in a supply vessel. One of his colleagues was shot dead when militants fired from the shore. ‘There were people all over the different beaches,’ he said. ‘Everyone fearing for their lives and thinking they weren’t going to make it out.’ (See: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/1129-expats-in-mozambique-faced-a-ring-of-murderous-jihadists-it-was-do-or-die.)
- More than 40 years after Zanu PF came to power following the liberation struggle, President Mnangagwa has urged the ever-growing number of ‘was veterans’ to put aside their walking sticks and rally behind the party in the 2023 elections. Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition says: ‘we hope the President’s call for war veterans to mobilise and campaign for Zanu PF does not translate into reactivation of the ruling party’s violence machinery.’ (See: https://www.thezimbabwean.co/2021/03/fears-of-violence-in-2023-elections-as-re-engagement-suffers-major-blow/.)
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