By Johan Viljoen, Reabetswe Tloubatla

1. Insurgents attack in Cabo Delgado with remotely controlled IEDs

There are signs of progress in the fight against insurgents in Cabo Delgado. However, a series of recent attacks shows that the insurgents are far from defeated and are carrying out more sophisticated attacks. A remotely controlled improvised explosive device (IED) severely damaged a Mozambican Armed Defense Force (FADM) armored vehicle in Quiterajo in July. The explosion triggered a firefight during which at least one FADM soldier was killed. Insurgents have been using these bombs on roads in the province since at least September 2021, but until June the explosives were typically rudimentary devices that explode when hit by vehicles or stepped on. Rebels used the first known remote-controlled IED attack in the province near Cobre and Ilala on 18 June. “The more targeted use of IEDs via remote control allows for tighter control of the roads and the setting up of ambushes”, says a report. “This is likely to restrict the movement of FADM and SAMIM patrols. It can also create fear among these forces, with unpredictable results.” The insurgents’ introduction of radio-controlled roadside bombs into their arsenal coincided with the decision by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to extend its military mission in Cabo Delgado by one year, until July 2024. SADC also announced a phased troop reduction starting in December. The authorities took the decision after an on-the-ground assessment report carried out by military, police, and civilians from Member States concluded that Cabo Delgado is “now calm and state institutions are functional”. Piers Pigou, head of the Southern Africa program at the Institute for Security Studies, disagreed and characterized the field assessment’s assertion that roads across the province are now safe to use as “bordering on irresponsibility”. “Talking about any withdrawal date is aspirational,” Pigou told Zitamar News. “They can kick the can on the way out, but they are indicating their intention to leave.” There were military gains in the province. A bilateral military pact with Rwanda and its 2,800 troops has helped stabilize Palma, a strategic port city where a bloody two-week siege in 2021 left an estimated 60 people dead, including children. SAMIM and its 1,900 staff have also helped to improve the security situation in other parts of the province.  Because of the insurgents’ resilience, many, like Hasmane Alfa, are afraid to return. Alfa, one of more than 800,000 people displaced by fighting since 2017, was 18 when gunmen attacked his home village of Quissanga three years ago. He was separated from his father for four days and did not know if he was alive. Alfa now lives with relatives in Pemba, the capital of the province, which is 102 kilometers south of Quissanga. He longs for stability in the region. “There is a common song among all displaced people: Peace! We want peace and tranquility and recover the few things we had”, said Alfa to the Voice of America (VOA). Mariana Camaroti, from the Red Cross in Mozambique, said that thousands of people have returned to their homes in Cabo Delgado since the second half of 2022, although many are still struggling. “These people who lived in [IDP] camps or hosted by families faced many challenges in accessing basic services such as health, education, food, clean water and livelihoods,” Camaroti told VOA. “Today, displaced people continue to face the same challenges.”

2. Insurgents claim responsibility for an ambush that allegedly killed nine FADM military operatives in Macomia

Insurgents claimed responsibility for an attack that killed nine soldiers and officers of the Mozambican forces. According to the statement, the nine soldiers were killed in an ambush carried out by members of the Islamic State operating in northern Mozambique. The claim conveyed by the Amaq Agency through digital platforms states that “a new attack by Islamic State militants in “Macomia” resulted in the death of 9 soldiers and officers of the Mozambican forces, in addition to being injured. Citing security sources, the “Amaq” news agency says “that members of the Islamic State set up a qualitative ambush on a mobile patrol of the Mozambican forces, while it was moving along the road that connects the villages of Kobar and Kitrago in the region of Macomia.  The sources added that IS members opened fire with medium and light machine guns on the patrol vehicles and attacked them with rocket-propelled grenades. And that “the sources stated that the members killed the soldiers who were inside the vehicle and seized light and medium weapons before setting them on fire.” According to the “Amaq agency”, the result of the new ambush adds to the successive losses suffered by the Mozambican forces during the last few weeks in “Macomia”, since the announcement of their last campaign there. Sources say that one of the victims of the attack was Lieutenant Albano Sipanela Nhoca, a prominent commander of the FADM, from the province of Manica, who for more than two decades he had been dedicated to the defence of the homeland.  However, a press release from the Ministry of National Defense (MDN) and the General Staff (EMG) states that the Joint Forces shot down Abu Kital, deputy commander of insurgent operations of the ASWJ group and deputy to Ibin Omar, as well as Ali Mahando who, like Abu Kital, held important positions within the insurgent group. The EMG communiqué states that “in the ongoing exercise to combat terrorists, a Motorized Unit of the FADM that was part of a military column bound for Quiterajo, at around 8.30 am last Tuesday (22.08), entered an enemy ambush and overturned on a ‘bridge’ and then caught fire, however, its occupants left unharmed”.



3. Dead, Wounded And Military Equipment “Torn Off”

The last few weeks have been difficult for the Defence and Security Forces (FDS) positioned in various corners of Cabo Delgado, with particular focus on the dense forests in the district of Macomia. The Minister of National Defence, Cristovão Chume, on his last visit to Cabo Delgado, had already acknowledged that the great challenges of restoring order in the province were concentrated in the district of Macomia, taking into account the continued existence of areas that point to for intense movement of insurgent groups. A week after the pronouncements, an insurgent ambush on a patrol of the Mozambican Army (FADM) resulted in at least ten soldiers dead, as many others injured and weapons captured. This occurrence took place in the first days of July, in the locality of Ilala/Cobre, administrative post of Quiterajo, in Macomia. In the same region, other attacks considered of “small scale” followed. More recently, on the 8th of this month, a new and large incursion focused on the base of the Defence and Security Forces in the forest of Katupa, also in Macomia. On the same day, a position of the Defense and Security Forces was attacked in the Litapata region, Muidumbe district, in the north of the province. mediaFAX was unable to ascertain the resulting damage but learned that a group from the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) had to go to support the position . Also in Macomia, over the past week, a group of insurgents visited Pangane village, the administrative post of Mucojo. In the interaction with people who returned to that region of the coast of Macomia, the insurgents, described as including many child soldiers, said that they were willing to any confrontation with the Defence and Security Forces. The group, after buying the supplies they wanted, returned to the woods, where their bases are believed to be installed.


4. Displaced People Without Information About The End Of Support From Humanitarian Organizations

Internally displaced people in Cabo Delgado have not received humanitarian aid for several days, at the various reception points where they are. The displaced received help offered by humanitarian and philanthropic organizations, United Nations agencies, and civil society organizations. About five years later, the World Food Program (WFP), the main United Nations agency that distributed food aid, no longer has the resources to provide “food vouchers”. However, says the CDD, no institution, including the government, has the courage to formally communicate to the displaced that the WFP is not in a position to continue providing food aid.



5. Cabo Delgado youth say that poverty and desperation drive them to become insurgents

Young people living in the district of Macomia, in Cabo Delgado, say they don’t have opportunities to prosper in life. They ask for jobs and attention so that terrorism is not an attraction. According to DW Africa, it was during a dialogue session between the provincial government of Cabo Delgado, NGO, and young people, that some participants opened their hearts and expressed what they felt and which could be the cause of immigration to the ranks of insurgents.

Young people said that all projects and companies have their own staff, not opening job opportunities for locals. They also denounced that the leaders who are in the offices, invite family members, who live in other areas, to vacancies in Macomia. The dialogue with young people took place on Saturday (12.08), on the occasion of the International Youth Day celebrations. The governor of Cabo Delgado, Valige Tauabo, who chaired the meeting, noted the concerns and defended that young people should access opportunities to contribute with their knowledge.



6. TOTAL “Changes vision”, acknowledges that locals are excluded from livelihood opportunities in Cabo Delgado

The director general of TotalEnergies, Maxime Rabilloud, says that the gains arising from the exploitation of natural gas in the Rovuma basin, in Cabo Delgado, should benefit, in the first place, the local communities, and considers it unfair that young locals are not a priority in hiring manpower for the projects under way there. Quoted by the Voice of America, Maxime Rabilloud, said that it is fair that locals, especially young people, have priority to provide services that do not require a lot of specialization feasible. He added that the benefits arising from the exploitation of natural resources, in the first instance, should be felt by local communities, and then be expanded to the rest of the country. The director general of TotalEnergies referred to this as the company’s “new vision”. Rabilloud’s statement failed to acknowledge TOTAL’s own culpability in not providing job opportunities to locals. It also showed an astonishing ignorance of Mozambique’s Mining Law.

Mining Law 20/2014 says: Article 8.2.c: The mining contract should clearly mention local employment and technical-professional training programs; Article 36.c: The holder of mining rights has the obligation to secure employment and technical training to national citizens, especially the ones who live in the concession area.


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