BY TINASHE KAIRIZA
THE Sadc Double Troika Summit held in Mozambique yesterday resolved to counter insurgency with “proportionate force” through a “technical deployment” to restore stability to the neighbouring country.
The summit was held a fortnight after Islamist extremists caused havoc in the coastal town of Palma in the Cabo Delgado province, leaving thousands of people in forced displacements and scores dead. In a communiqué released after the meeting, the regional bloc resolved to deploy a “technical” force in Mozambique to restore peace and stability.
“Double Troika Summit received a report from the Organ Troika on the security situation in Mozambique, and noted with concern, the acts of terrorism perpetrated against innocent civilians, women and children in some of the districts of Cabo Delgado Province of the Republic of Mozambique; condemned the terrorist attacks in strongest terms; and affirmed that such heinous attacks cannot be allowed to continue without a proportionate regional response,” reads part of the communiqué.
“Double Troika Summit directed an immediate technical deployment to the Republic of Mozambique, and the convening of an Extraordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ by 28 April 2021 that will report to the Extraordinary Organ Troika Summit on 29 April 2021.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is the outgoing chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation also attended the summit held in Maputo. The meeting was officially opened by Mozambique President and Sadc chairperson Felipe Nyusi.
Last year in May, the regional bloc also committed to support Mozambique in fighting militants linked to the Islamic State in the natural gas-rich northern parts of the country. University of London professor of World Politics Stephen Chan noted that the wording of the Sadc communiqué does not suggest that the regional bloc would be deploying troops to Mozambique but would assess the dynamics in play.
“Sadc is not yet at the point of sending troops to Mozambique although it knows it may at some point need to do so. But there are immense problems in doing so such as coordination of soldiers from different Sadc armies. The nations have different equipment and ammunition,” he said.
“Another problem will be how the Sadc soldiers will cooperate with a very lacklustre Mozambican military but, above all, with the mercenary units fighting there. Do Sadc armies fight alongside mercenaries? Even those with dignified modern names? So, the “technical deployment” referred to by the communiqué will be more of a fact-finding mission investigating exactly such questions.”
Chan projected that if Sadc later deploys troops in Mozambique, the force will be likely to offer advisory services, in the same manner the United States is assisting.
The US has already deployed military instructors to help fight terrorists.
“If any Sadc military deployment is finally agreed, it will probably be, like the US deployment already in place, advisory and supportive. I do not see, for the time being, any Sadc frontline combat units in action. Those units would need to be able to communicate in any case with the local population,” he said.
“The last thing you need for a population terrified by the insurgents is to be terrified again by Sadc soldiers. But there is a local language in Cabo Delgado, Mwani, which no one else in Sadc speaks. There will be problems in winning hearts and minds. Bullets alone cannot solve this problem,” Chan added.
A Zimbabwe government source concurred with Chan, saying the technical deployment was being done for intelligence gathering.
“Intelligence is sent ahead of the army so that they assess the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy, the type of weapons, types of vehicles, terrain, supply routes, weather, etc. A lot goes into it before any other deployments are made,” he said.
As reported by this newspaper on May 8, 2020, Zimbabwe once deployed elite troops to assist the Mozambican government with strategies on how to track down the insurgents.
The soldiers also conducted reconnaissance, which includes studying the terrain and assessing enemy strength.
The Sadc Double Troika Summit was also attended by Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Mokgweetsi Masisi (Botswana) and Lazarus Chakwera (Malawi).
Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu was represented by the President of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar Hussein Ali Mwinyi.