Southern Africa: Summit of SADC Security Troika Postponed

Troops from Malawi, the DR Congo and eSwatini at a Southern African Development Community joint training exercise in 2018.

Maputo — The summit of the defence and security troika of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), that was due to be held in Maputo on Thursday, has been postponed sine die.

A meeting of the ministerial committee of the SADC defence and security organ went ahead on Wednesday - but at the end of that meeting, Mozambican Foreign Minister Veronica Macamo announced that the summit could not go ahead as planned, due to the absence of the two of the three troika members.

The troika chairperson, Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, cannot attend because he is in quarantine, following a contact with somebody who tested positive for the Covid-19 respiratory disease. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is also unavailable because he has to attend the Commission of Inquiry into accusations of "State Capture" and corruption under the regime of his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.

Hence the only member of the troika who would be available for a Thursday summit is Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Without a quorum, the summit could not go ahead.

The summit should have discussed a report from a SADC technical commission on the nature of the terrorist threat in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, and the type of support from SADC that Mozambique requires.

According to South African press reports, the commission's recommendations include that a regional rapid response force, almost 3,000 strong, be deployed to Cabo Delgado immediately - even though the Mozambican government itself had previously declared that it neither wants, nor needs, foreign troops.

Speaking at the end of the ministerial meeting, Macamo played down the delay in holding the summit. She said that, despite the postponement, there is already an understanding among SADC members about the nature of the threat Mozambique faces, and clarity about how support can urgently be channelled to Mozambique.

Macamo said it is understood that those SADC member states that are able to support Mozambique can do so, in accordance with their capacity, as from now.

At the close of the meeting, its chairperson Botswana Foreign Minister, Lemogang Kwape, claimed the meeting had been fruitful and there was agreement that SADC should act urgently as a collective.

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