27/06/2020 – Plans are in place for the SA Defence Force (SANDF) as there is an increase in Islamic insurgency in Mozambique’s northern-most province, Cabo Delgado, with the potential to spread to other provinces and neighbouring countries, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has said.
What these plans are, remains unanswered.
However, this is the first public expression of concern from the government the violence in Mozambique could spread after Parliament was previously informed the matter was only to be discussed behind closed doors.
Mapisa-Nqakula was responding to a question from DA MP Mimmy Gondwe who asked whether Military Intelligence had found there was potential for the increasing Islamic insurgent activities, which is currently taking place in northern Mozambique, to spread to Southern African Development Community (SADC) states.
« Defence Intelligence can confirm that there is an increase of Islamic insurgency activities currently in the province of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, and these have the potential to spread to other provinces and neighbouring Southern African Development Community states, » read Mapisa-Nqakula’s answer.
Gondwe also asked: « Does the SA National Defence Force have a contingency plan in response to the potential spread into the republic of the increasing insurgent activities currently taking place in northern Mozambique; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the further relevant details? »
Mapisa-Nqakula answered: « As the Islamic insurgency activities may affect some SADC states, the regional political and military approach has been recommended and to this effect, plans are in place to discuss and concretise the approach. »
Earlier in June, Secretary of Defence Sam Gulube told the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans the SANDF had participated in « Operation Copper » in support of the Mozambican Defence Force.
The SAS Drakensberg had conducted a long-range counter-piracy patrol along the northern coast of Mozambique, from Pemba towards the Tanzanian border from 11 February to 27 March.
After the presentation, DA MP Kobus Marais asked whether South Africa’s Special Forces were training in the north of Durban for possible deployment in Mozambique, given that the minister of international relations and cooperation, Naledi Pandor, recently said South Africa was in discussions with Mozambique about helping in the conflict with ISIS.
Gulube said Special Forces’ operations were classified and perhaps the committee could arrange that it was « discussed under closed doors ».
When Mapisa-Nqakula answered the committee’s questions, she confirmed with its chairperson the meeting was open to the public, and then said she would not speak about Mozambique.
« There are challenges with Mozambique. Yes, there are, » she said. « Whether Mozambique asked for help is another matter. »
Pandor noted in an interview with the SABC on 22 May that South Africa and Mozambique were in discussions regarding the security situation in Cabo Delgado.
Reuters reported it was unclear from her comments whether this could include sending troops.
News24 reported in December last year that ongoing attacks by a terrorist organisation, with possible links to ISIS, had left a trail of destruction in Cabo Delgado.
This has continued in 2020.
Last month, Mozambique’s army said it had killed 50 suspected jihadists in Cabo Delgado after another spate of insurgent attacks in the gas-rich region.
News 24|Jan Gerber
Sahel-Elite (Bamako-Mali) |Image: Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula / GCIS