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SA perplexed over inertia in Mozambique crisis

Country has been resisting outside help, instead relying on mercenaries in face of escalating Islamist insurgency.
Maputo summit cancelled, militants encroach on $20bn natural gas project being built by Total. Image: Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg

South African Foreign Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor expressed frustration over the region’s failure to help Mozambique contain an escalating Islamist insurgency.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) had been due to hold a special summit this week in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, to discuss its response to the insurgency, which has caused more than half a million people to flee their homes in the north of the country. The militants are also encroaching on a $20 billion natural gas project Total SE is building.

The summit was cancelled due to a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

‘Worrying puzzle’

“The situation in Mozambique and our ability as SADC to arrive at an agreement as to what form of support we might provide remains a very worrying puzzle to us,” Pandor said in a webinar Wednesday.

“We have made every effort to reach out to the government of Mozambique and to sit with them to decide a support agenda.”

President Filipe Nyusi’s government has so far resisted outside help to end the conflict in Cabot Delgado province that started in 2017, relying on mercenaries instead.

“Thus far, we’ve not succeeded in concretising exactly the nature of support we should give to the government,” said Pandor. “Either through the police service, intelligence, or indeed our defence force.”

‘Humanitarian catastrophe’

The violence escalated last year, with the militants seizing a port town in August. Attacks near Total’s site prompted the French company to temporarily halt the project and evacuate staff in January.

The number of displaced is “skyrocketing” and about 1.6 million people need assistance, Myrta Kaulard, the United Nations resident coordinator in Maputo, told reporters Wednesday. The UN urgently needs $254 million (R3.76 billion) to ramp up aid to “avoid a humanitarian catastrophe,” according to Valentin Tapsoba, the UN Refugee Agency’s southern Africa director.

European Union officials are visiting Mozambique this week to discuss possible assistance.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

 

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It is not a South Africa problem. It is AU or UN problem.

Concreterizing — You mean like naledi brain ne.

Minister Pandor – what about the inertia in the ANC, that is holding this country hostage for about a decade now.

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