Southern Africa: Cabo Delgado Civil War - Pressure Grows in South Africa for Intervention

Entering Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique.

South African General Xolani Mankayi has ordered the soldiers of his 43 Brigade, who form the rapid intervention unit of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), to begin an intensive training programme for possible action in Cabo Delgado if President Cyril Ramaphosa decides to intervene, according to Africa Intelligence (29 July). (Zitamar, Carta de Mocambique 30 July)

Africa Intelligence points to a "lobby" for military intervention led by the SANDF chief General Solly Shoke. He has backing of Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapissa-Nqakula and her husband Charles Nqakula, a former defence minister. Charles was High Commissioner (ambassador) in Mozambique 2012-16 and the pair retain close links with Frelimo.

South Africa's Institute for Security Studies (ISS) is also lobbying for intervention. Police raided a house in Kliprivier south of Johannesburg on 23 July, arresting a five person kidnapping gang and finding weapons, training manuals, and an ISIS black flag (eNCA, 29 July). ISS consultant Peter Fabricius wrote in Daily Maverick (30 July) that "some security analysts believe the Kliprivier group was only involved in raising finances, mainly through kidnapping and perhaps extortion, for terrorist operations elsewhere, including in Mozambique." Jakkie Cilliers, ISS head of African futures and innovation told TimesLive (28 July) that it was well known that kidnapping syndicates in South Africa use ransoms as a source of finance for other criminal networks. “Extremist organisations are able to take root when there is a collapse or failure in governance as we see happening in northern Mozambique," he said.

Meanwhile, Africa Monitor (28 July) reports that Ramaphosa has chosen as new high commissioners (ambassadors) to Mozambique and Tanzania two very senior ANC people who are armed struggle veterans. Africa Monitor says they are effectively being appointed as personal representatives of Ramaphosa to be involved in the discussions about possible SADC intervention. Zimbabwe supports intervention but Tanzania opposes it. The Mozambique High Commissioner will be Geraldine Fraser Moleketi who is also senior in the South African Communist Party but in recent years has been with the UN Development Programme and then the African Development Bank. (Zitamar 30 July)

Africa Intelligence claims tensions between Mozambique and South Africa on the Cabo Delgado war, in part because Mozambique does not want to share its own intelligence. The few members of the SA Defence Intelligence Division present in Mozambique were expelled just before the Covid-19 pandemic, the newsletter says, and South African officers are now turning to private intelligence companies to find out more about the insurrection.

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