VICE-President Constantino Chiwenga has decried escalating acts of terrorism in Africa saying it has become a “thorn in the flesh” for many governments.
Addressing delegates at the official opening of the ongoing 78th session of the executive committee of the African Parliamentary Union (APU) in Victoria Falls yesterday, Chiwenga said despite numerous interventions, APU continues to face challenges.
“The dynamic modern socio-political and economic environment characterised by climate change, erratic weather conditions which have become more frequent in occurrence and more severe in impact, the increased risk and incidences of terrorism as well as a general reduction of disposable financial resources and incomes has become the proverbial ‘thorn in the flesh’ for many governments,” Chiwenga said.
“As some of you may be aware, conflicts and tensions which have been brewing over the past three to four decades have manifested in the increased cases of terrorism and violent extremism across our African continent. This has in turn threatened the peace, security, stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity of member States.
Chiwenga said violent extremist groups were no longer confined to the Sahelian States, northern regions and West African coastal States alone, but Africa was witnessing a newer trend in religious extremism perpetrated by daring terrorism-inclined entities.
“These groups have also spread further to the south-east of the continent in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, northern Mozambique and Tanzania. Therefore, it is imperative that we use this forum to come up with measures that address the growing threat of terrorism. The eradication of terrorism requires a firm commitment by the member States to pursue common objectives against the scourge of terrorism,” he said.
On Tuesday, Senate president Mabel Chinomona also told APU delegates that terrorism was affecting the livelihoods of vulnerable groups like women and children in Africa.
“Terrorist and violent extremist groups have changed the face of global conflicts by exploiting technology and the interconnectedness of the global village to move weapons, money, information and fighters across borders. There is need to rise to the occasion and propose robust strategies to end this violence against our people, and in particular the vulnerable segments of our societies such as women, children, the elderly and disabled people, “Chinomona said.
She said women suffered abductions, kidnappings and were invariably subjected to organised rape, sexual assault, forced marriages and forced conversions and sexual slavery perpetrated by terrorists.
“The tragic irony of it all is that women and girls formerly associated with terrorist and violent extremist groups are often seen by society as affiliates or accomplices of the groups instead of being seen as victims.”
She called for the participation of women in post-conflict reconstruction processes, adding that there was need to empower female leaders in conflict resolution.
“It is vital to note from the outset that while terrorism is a global phenomenon, Africa bears the greatest brunt of it, largely due to limited military resources and economic deprivation, which lures many young people into joining extremist groups … In 2021, 48% or 3 461 of all terrorism deaths globally occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. The magnitude of the problem we are facing as a continent is highlighted by the fact that deaths arising from terrorism and violent extremism in Africa have grown by over 1 000% between 2007 and 2014,” she added.