Maputo — The Southern African Development Community (SADC) believes that the atrocities committed by islamist terrorists against the people of the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado have reached intolerable levels and the time has come to find a definitive solution.
This was the position expressed in Maputo on Wednesday by the Foreign Minister of Botswana, Lemogang Kwape, at the opening of an extraordinary meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the SADC Organ for Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
Botswana is the current chair of this body, and the ministerial meeting was held on the eve of a summit meeting of the SADC "double troika". One troika consists of the current, incoming and outgoing chairs of SADC (namely Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania), while the second is formed by the current, incoming and outgoing chairs of the defence and security organ (Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe),
Addressing the Ministerial Committee, Kwape said "it is very clear that the situation has become a much greater security threat and a much more serious humanitarian catastrophe then initially foreseen".
The deterioration of the situation in Cabo Delgado was illustrated by the terrorist attack against the town of Palma on 24 March. This raid seemed better coordinated than previous attacks, and the jihadists had more modern weaponry (including mortars).
Mozambique was thus facing a stronger enemy than in the past, well financed and supplied, said Kwape.
"These heinous attacks are an affront to peace and security, not only in Mozambique, but in the region and in the international community as a whole", said the Botswanan minister. "Hence it requires a regional and coordinated response to face this new threat to our common security before it spreads throughout the entire region".
It was well known that halting terrorist attacks is a complex challenge for the entire international community, let alone for one country on its own. "This is because the terrorists operate without respecting any rules, much less taking into account international borders and national sovereignty", said Kwape.
Hence no SADC member state can or should face this threat on its own. "We need to remain firm and united, as the SADC region, in a demonstration of solidarity with our brother country, Mozambique", he declared.
Mozambican Foreign Minister Veronica Macamo said the SADC meeting is an important landmark in the fight against terrorism, not only in Mozambique, but throughout Southern Africa.
The decisions from the meeting, she added, "will be understood as a strong message from the countries of the region that a threat to the integrity of one member state constitutes a threat to all SADC states".