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Cabo Delgado: “Strained Relations Have Made SADC’s Military Mission Ineffective and Risky” – Thomas Mandrup

Cabo Delgado: “Strained Relations Have Made SADC’s Military Mission Ineffective and Risky” – Thomas Mandrup

Researcher Thomas Mandrup, based at the University of Stalenbosh in South Africa, believes that the strained relations between the country and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have made the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) ineffective and exposed the military to danger.

In a study called “South Africa, SADC and SAMIM: Some Lessons Learnt from SADC at War”, Mandrup pointed out that the unexpected deployment of the Rwandan military contingent in Cabo Delgado also complicated “the operational environment for SAMIM”, as it seems that the Rwandans are seen as the preferred partner of President Filipe Nyusi’s government.

According to him, the lack of resources was also a constraint on the duration of the Southern African military deployment in Mozambique, which has already begun its withdrawal and will be completed next June.

“SADC’s deployment in the country played a contested but critical role, allowing oil multinationals to reactivate their activities in the province. The picture among the people on the ground tells a story with many ‘nuances’,” he said.

The researcher recognised that the multinationals’ decision to resume operations in Cabo Delgado is a sign that the security situation has improved significantly and that there is confidence about the future.

“SAMIM’s contingent included air, naval and land forces, totalling 2900 elements, but by mid-2021, the organisation deployed a military force of only 1900 soldiers. The number of attack helicopters, air transport and intelligence services was also not reached,” he recalled.

In his study, Thomas Mandrup emphasised that “SAMIM’s deployment took place against a backdrop of political controversy between the host government and SADC, since, in parallel, the Executive signed an agreement with Rwanda to send troops”.

“Terrorist attacks on local populations and the Defence and Security Forces continue frequently and the reduction in insurgent incursions cannot be mistakenly seen as a lack of capacity. The terrorists are only waiting for SAMIM and possibly Rwanda to leave Mozambique,” he warned.

Mandrup also noted that the religious radicalisation of the Islamic sector in that northern province began in the early 2000s among the Mwanis and Macuas. In this sense, the ethnic dimension also has a bearing on the war, given that the Mwanis and Macuas have always had tense relations with the Makonde minority.

“The Makonde have always been seen as privileged and associated with the elites of Maputo, where the central powers are. The fact that a Makonde became President of the Republic (Filipe Nyusi) aggravated the feeling of marginalisation that has always prevailed in the mentality of the Mwanis and Macuas, intensifying ethnic animosity in the region,” he added.

“The Mwanis and Macuas have always been marginalised and have been the backbone of the Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaa (AS), which leads the insurgency,” he concluded.


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