The long-awaited meeting of SADC Heads of State to discuss the war in Cabo Delgado took place in Maputo on 8 April 2021. In attendance were the Presidents of Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Tanzania. After the meeting, the following communique was issued:

Double Troika Summit received a report from the Organ Troika on the security situation in Mozambique, and noted with concern, the acts of terrorism perpetrated against innocent civilians, women and children in some of the districts of Cabo Delgado Province of the Republic of Mozambique; condemned the terrorist attacks in strongest terms; and affirmed that such heinous attacks cannot be allowed to continue without a proportionate regional response.

Double Troika Summit expressed its heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the Government and people of the Republic of Mozambique, […], particularly the bereaved families, on the loss of their loved ones.

Double Troika Summit expressed SADC’s full solidarity with the Government and people of the Republic of Mozambique, and reaffirm SADC’s continued commitment to contribute towards the efforts to bring about lasting peace and security, as well as reconciliation and development in the Republic of Mozambique.

Double Troika Summit directed an immediate technical deployment to the Republic of Mozambique, and the convening of an Extraordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ by 28 April 2021 that will report to the Extraordinary Organ Troika Summit on 29 April 2021.

Double Troika Summit, commended H.E. President Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, of the Republic of Botswana, and Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation for spearheading the work of the Organ.

Double Troika Summit also commended H.E. Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique, and Chairperson of SADC, for his leadership and for convening the Summit.

Issued at Maputo, Republic of Mozambique, 8th April 2021

The communique immediately drew criticism for its vagueness and lack of commitment. The only intervention mentioned is a “technical deployment”. No further details are given as to what this “technical deployment” will entail.

Tanzania Denies Entry To Cabo Delgado Refugees

UNHCR has confirmed that 600 Mozambicans, who fled the attack on Palma to seek refuge in Tanzania, were sent back to Cabo Delgado by the Tanzanian authorities. This is a clear violation of the principle of non-refoulement. According to Cesar Tembe, the Director of the official Mozambican Disaster Response Agency – INGD – there are more than 30 000 persons who fled the attack on Palma, who are hiding in the forests around Palma, in critical need of food, water, medication and psycho-social support.

How Likely Is An Attack On Pemba?

Unless the security situation changes significantly, an attack on Pemba is likely within the next six months. This is according to Eva Renon of the financial services company IHS Markit. The sophistication of the attack on Palma shows an exponential increase in the capacity of the insurgents, while exposing the weakness of the Mozambican Army. Should the security situation not improve, she considers an attack on Pemba to be likely  within the next six months. Pemba has an airport and a shipping container port, which the insurgents would like to control. Should they succeed in capturing Pemba, according to Renon, the insurgents are likely to try and establish bases at Montepuez (from where they would control the ruby mines) and Balama (from where they would control the graphite mines). Renon also considers an attack on the Tanzanian town of Mtwara likely, although she says it would be unsuccessful, due to the superior strength of the Tanzanian army.

Situation Update:

Dyck Advisory Group has entered into an agreement with Garda World, a Canadian security operator, to further bolster its efforts in Mozambique. Garda World will, ostensibly, only act in an advisory capacity to DAG, to re-strategize and realign its endeavours in Mozambique to be more effective. Though they will not be putting boots on the grounds, Garda will be giving tactical advice to DAG, through its Dubai branch, which is run by Briton Oliver Westmacott, along with his colleagues in Mozambique, Michael Gibson and Paulo Mole. Garda already has a presence in Mozambique, having bought Aegis, which is a security company that provides on the ground security to Totals infrastructure at its Afungi plant, working together with other security giants like G4S and Arkhe Risk Solutions, the latter of which is a subsidiary of South African Omega Risk Solutions.

As reported in our country update last week, DAG will have its contract extended by the Mozambican government, although it will now be working more with the local military. Maputo has entered into an agreement to purchase four militarized helicopters (Gazelles) and armoured vehicles (Marauders), and has taken possession of two Gazelles so far, all bought from yet another South African operator, Paramount Group.

According to reports, on 28 March 2021, insurgents claimed they had taken control of Palma, having overrun the local authorities and government forces. This follows attacks in which over 11 000 people were displaced and over 40 lives lost in clashes between insurgents, government forces and fleeing civilians. Reports on the ground suggest the insurgents met with little government resistance, with most armed forces not putting up much of a fight, ceding the area easily. President Nyusi, however, has lauded the efforts of his troops, congratulating them on being able to push back the enemy, although there is little evidence of this. Instead, the push back was done primarily by private contractors, with DAG at the forefront, with support from Paramount, NAC and its other partners. The Total project in Afungi, from which DAG performed rescue operations, reportedly refused to supply rescue vehicles with fuel to aid in the evacuation of its own people from the Amarula Hotel in Palma city after it was overrun by insurgents.

Total has now taken the decision to shut down all operations at its Afungi plant, in Cabo Delgado. As we reported on 31/03/2021, it had taken the decision to temporarily suspend all operations until a more peaceful solution could be found. Now, it says it will completely shut all operations and pulling all its staff from the plant, including all skeleton and security staff who were left, leaving it essentially moth balled, for the indeterminate future. The shutdown was followed by a hasty evacuation of its staff, via land, air and sea. This shut down leaves the plant, and its continued security at the hands of the government forces, who are already stretched thin on the ground with fighting, and making a clear statement to the government of President Nyusi that further investment will not take place unless a  solution is found to the insurgency. This is a “very significant development which will put additional pressure on the Mozambican government…Total will be watching closely the government’s efforts to significantly improve security”, according to a highly placed, London based analyst.

At the moment, total owns a 26.5% stake in the Mozambique Liquid Natural Gas exploration project, with the Mozambican national oil company ENH, holding 15%, alongside other players- Japanese Mitsui with 20%, Thai PTTEP with 8.5%, and Indian firms ONGC Videsh, BPRL Ventures and Beas Rovuma Energy all holding 10%.

Jasmine Opperman, a researcher at the Cabo Ligado Observatory has firmly  stated that the attacks and violence seen over the last week in Palma could absolutely have been prevented, noting that the Mozambican government had been warned repeatedly about the increasing violence for three years. “It is a tragedy, it is a massacre, and the attack could have been prevented” she states. She emphasizes that the Mozambican government needs help, and needs to accept that it is woefully unprepared and undermanned to fight this kind of violence, with an urgent need for security in Cabo Delgado, but with a keen eye on the possibility of there being a similar attack again in another location. “Improvement, sophistication, long term plans, access to ammunition and weapons while the attack was underway show the received training from foreigners”, with significant links and likeness to Islamic State, she says of the insurgents. The attacks have been claimed by Hal al-Sunnah wa al Jamma’ah, who were in 2019, formalized into the Central African Province of the Islamic State, and who has, since then, taken control of the strategic port of Mocimboa da Praia until its latest attack and occupation of Palma. The attack was definitely well planned, having three points of entry, with some even wearing military uniforms. They showed discipline and control and managed to confuse and overpower the few troops who were in Mocimboa da Praia. Language analysts have posited that the group includes fighters from Tanzania base on linguistic patterns,  “ the tactics and manoeuvers of extremists during these past months, as well as their effectiveness in combat, in addition to other indicators, have convinced us that there is significant support from ISIS”, continues Opperman. Jens Laerke, the spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says the situation has also seen “thousands of people fleeing north towards the border with Tanzania”. There are additional reports of sexual violence, with girls being forced to marry fighters, and in some cases being kidnapped for this purpose and also being subjected to rape and sexual violence. This is in addition to children being forcibly recruited for fighting- this from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees staff member, Mr. Andrej Mahecic.

There is renewed dissatisfaction among troops in Mozambique, with many believing that the president, Filipe Nyusi, is not aiding them in their efforts to fight the insurgents. This stems from their chronic lack of access to resources, such as access to arms, communication devices, fuel and even food and water purification rations. The soldiers believe that their food rations are sometimes diverted away from them to well-connected individuals in Pemba who then keep the stock for themselves and sell them on the black market at exorbitant prices, while the soldiers starve. The soldiers also lament the fact that up until now, their commander in chief has yet to say anything definitive about their endeavours, to encourage them or to speak out against the violence being perpetrated in his country against his citizens. Approximately 300 soldiers have lost their lives in the fighting but many of their families have no knowledge of this, or even of where they are buried as their corpses are secreted away. There are also reports of profiteering by those close to the president, senior government officials and even army generals by sometimes leaking their positions to the enemy. It has been reported that a company belonging to the son of the president, Jacinto Farrão Nyusi, was given a contract to supply rations to the military but has not been able to provide such a service in a consistent and speedy manner, even though he has been prepaid huge amounts of money to do so. Total has also stopped paying its dues to the government, believing that the money is being diverted to private pockets and not to the protection of their installations.

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