The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ Troika of three leaders, plus Mozambique, met Wednesday in Harare, Zimbabwe to discuss the security situation in the Cabo Delgado Province of Mozambique.
At the day-long meeting in Harare, leaders of Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique said they had discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and the security situation in southern Africa, including Lesotho, where Prime Minister Thomas Thabane resigned this week after months of pressure over his alleged role in the murder of his former wife.
But much of the talk centered on Mozambique, where an Islamist insurgency has raged in Cabo Delgado province since 2017.
A statement issued by the host Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said, “the purpose of the Extraordinary Troika Summit plus Mozambique is to consider the urgent security situation in Mozambique following its formal request to the regional body.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe who is the current Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation said the Cabo Delgado Province is under threat from some acts of extremism and terrorism, and could spread to neighboring countries if not properly addressed.
According to the United Nations, at least 28 attacks have been recorded in the province since the beginning of 2020 with 400 people killed and about 100,000 people displaced since the beginning of the insurgency in 2017.
Various groups including those with Islamic fundamentalism, especially a group known as Ahlu Sunna Wa-Jama have claimed responsibility for some of the attacks which the Mozambican government is now describing as terrorism.
To combat the instability in the northern part of the country, Mozambique – as one of the 16 SADC Member States — has made a formal request to the regional body to help fight the insurgency, which could impact other countries in southern Africa if left unattended.
The Cabo Delgado Province, which is situated in the northernmost part of Mozambique shares its border with the United Republic of Tanzania.
The SADC Troika of the Organ is responsible for promoting peace and security in the SADC region, and is coordinated at the level of Summit, consisting of a Chairperson, Incoming Chairperson and Outgoing Chairperson, and reports to the SADC Summit.
President Mnangagwa as current Chair of the Organ is joined in the meeting by President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana (Incoming Chairperson) and Zambian President Edgar Lungu (Outgoing Chairperson). Felipe Nyusi of Mozambique also attended the meeting.
various measures were discussed and taken by SADC to contain the insurgency in the Cabo Delgado Province, some of which include helping Mozambique with military and intelligence information to fight the insurgency and also deploy a SADC standby force since such acts of terrorism are transboundary.