1. TANZANIAN PRESIDENT TURNS FROM CHINA TO THE WEST AS TERROR THREAT LOOMS

The Tanzanian Army fears that terrorist activity in Mozambique could spread to its territory. It is now turning to new Western partners for help because Beijing, its main ally and military supplier, has not made counter-terrorism a priority. On 20 October 2021 Africa Intelligence reported that Tanzania’s top brass has in recent months been scrambling to establish new contacts with Western military and diplomatic representatives in Dar es Salaam. President Samia Suluhu Hassan is taking very seriously the jihadist threat just across her southern border in Mozambique’s gas-rich Cabo Delgado Province. She instructed Tanzania People’s Defense Forces’ (TPDF) Chief of Staff Venance Mabeyo, with whom she enjoys excellent relations, to prepare his Army to deal with the threat if it spills over the border.

Samia Suluhu Hassan’s predecessor, the late John Magufuli, had long refused to take calls from his Mozambican counterpart Filipe Nyusi, who was hoping for military cooperation on the Mozambican-Tanzanian border. But that era is over and Mabeyo deployed a contingent to Cabo Delgado in August as part of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM). The Military Chief does not however have the support of Beijing, the Tanzanian Army’s main supplier. Although counter-terrorism is mentioned in the Beijing Action Plan (2019-2021) of the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), President Xi Jinping has not made it a priority. With the arrival on 2 October of Chen Mingjian, its new Ambassador to Dar es Salaam, the Chinese Administration wants to refocus on the Belt and Road Initiative.

Under previous Administrations, the Tanzanian Army has had dealings only with their Chinese partner. They now have had to go through Defense Minister Stergomena Lawrence Tax and Foreign Minister Liberata Mulamula to rebuild ties with foreign militaries. Potential military support from Washington against terrorism was the main topic of a meeting on 8 October between US Ambassador Donald Wright and Tax, who took over the Ministry a month earlier. The meeting followed a visit to Dar es Salaam at the end of July by General Stephen Townsend, the Head of AFRICOM, the US Military Command in Africa.

Mabeyo visited Kigali at the end of August to meet Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) Chief of Staff Jean-Bosco Kazura, three weeks after a meeting in the same city between Suluhu and President Paul Kagame. The Tanzanian Army Chief hoped to establish bilateral cooperation on anti-terrorism issues as well as to improve coordination between the RDF and SAMIM in Cabo Delgado. The French Ambassador to Tanzania, Frédéric Clavier, has been asked to set up a Counter-terrorism Training Center.


2. NEW INFLUX OF IDP’S IN NAMPULA

With the IDP camp at Corrane rapidly running out of space, 250 newly arrived internally displaced families – arriving in Nampula – have been provided with a place to settle at Rapale, approximately 40 km from Nampula City. Most are women and children. They are not being provided with any assistance, and must go to a nearby forest to get bamboo, grass and stakes to build their own shelters. They currently also do not have food.

This renewed influx casts doubt on claims by Rwandan and Mozambican authorities that it is now safe to return to the northern parts of Cabo Delgado. See photo below of newly arrived IDP’s at Rapale:

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