There has been much speculation about the reasons for the continued failure of any SADC intervention. The first meeting of SADC heads of state took place in Maputo on 28 April. It was agreed to send a technical team to assess the situation and make recommendations. At the beginning of May a report from the technical team emerged, with recommendations of a 3 000 strong SADC force, with air capacity, to contain the insurgency. SADC itself distanced itself from the report, which had been leaked without authorization. It was then reported that there is tension within SADC – Zimbabwe wants a robust intervention force under Zimbabwean command. South Africa and Botswana are both uncomfortable with Zimbabwe being in command of the operation. President Nyusi is equally opposed to a SADC force under Zimbabwean command. The SADC “Double Troika” met again in Maputo on 27 May 2021. No progress was made. The communique that was issued merely stated that they would meet again on 22 June.

The lack of progress and continuing prevarications are not surprising. The process is probably continuing just to keep up appearances. The decision regarding the way forward has already been taken. According to reports by well placed sources (that I met with in Maputo last week), a series of meetings took place in Paris during the week of 18 May. President Nyusi met with the Director of Total, who said that Total would return once the area around its installation at Afungi has been secured. Meetings also took place between President Macron, President Nyusi, President Ramaphosa (of South Africa) and President Kagame (of Rwanda). Between the four of them it was agreed that a joint command would be established – with Mozambique at the head, supported and advised by South Africa. The soldiers would come from Rwanda – provided by President Kagame. The French navy would provide naval backing from its base at Mayotte.

If correct, this is a significant development. It bypasses SADC, leaving Zimbabwe out of the picture. It also bypasses the AU. President Tshisekedi of DRC is the current AU Chairperson. With deep seated suspicion and hostility between Rwanda and DRC, it is likely that President Tshisekedi would have opposed any Rwandese involvement if the AU had been involved in the process.

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