Southern Africa Leaders Offer Military Support to Fight Insurgents in Troubled Mozambique

A map showing the location of Palma in northern Mozambique.

Gabarone — Botswana's president says southern African leaders have offered military support to Mozambique's troubled Cabo Delgado province to help stop a violent Islamist insurgency. However, it was not clear if the offer includes troops that would directly engage the insurgents or just military aid.

In a televised address shortly after a summit of the regional SADC bloc on Thursday, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said regional intervention is necessary in the Mozambique conflict.

"The countries of SADC are pledging support to Mozambique; material, emotional, psycho-social support and of course, including defense logistics and military support. from the countries of SADC consistent with the (defense) pact," said Masisi, who is the SADC chairperson for the Organ on Politics, Defense and Security.

Masisi did not say whether the military support will be technical or boots on the ground.

But SADC leaders cannot stand by and watch the brutalities in Mozambique escalate, he said.

"It must be borne in mind that this is following an elongated period of brutal commitment of atrocities, heinous atrocities where people's internal organs are taken out, where people are beheaded, pregnant women had their tummies slashed and unborn babies spewed all over the place. The brutality of the terrorists in Cabo Delgado are quite devastating," Masisi said.

Botswana's minister of defense and security, Kagiso Mmui, told local media Thursday the army was ready for deployment in Mozambique.

Mozambique's president, Filipe Nyusi, has resisted calls for SADC to intervene. But Masisi said the meeting participants agreed the regional bloc has to step in.

However, Adriano Nuvunga, director of the Centre for Democracy and Development in Maputo, questions SADC's capacity to intervene in such a crisis.

"Mozambicans have been waiting for SADC's intervention. Some people have been expecting that SADC could intervene militarily. But the next question is, does SADC have that capacity to militarily intervene in Mozambique, looking at the strongest countries in the region. Do they have the capacity to intervene militarily in that type of conflict that Mozambique is dealing with in northern Cabo Delgado," Nuvunga said.

The SADC summit was convened following recent attacks in the town of Palma, which left dozens dead.

Mozambique has battled insurgents in the oil rich Cabo Delgado region since 2017.

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