Dozens die in Mozambique as Zimbabwe delays military deployment

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The Islamic insurgency by Ahlu Sunnah Wa Jamma (ASWJ) Islamic insurgents in the Northern Mozambique province of Cabo Delgado has reached a new level.

The relentless attacks by insurgents have become so bold and daring in the second quarter of 2020 – to an extent that very recently, on Tuesday 11 August 2020 they captured a strategic seaport and airport and occupied the town of Mocimboa da Praia after fighting and overpowering the Mozambique Defence Armed Forces (FADM) in a sustained and fierce five day battle. The fighting resulted in the loss of about fifty-five government soldiers and a navy patrol boat was sunk. This is a scary escalation of the war in Cabo Delgado.

Dyck Advisory Group, a South African based Private Military Contractor which is helping FADM in the war, offered aerial assistance in the form of improvised Gazelle helicopter gunship, however their efforts could not turn back the determined and well-coordinated insurgency assault.

This setback is an embarrassment not only to Mozambique but also to the entire SADC bloc who, as it appears, have decided to fold arms and watch from a distance, as the ASWJ insurgents run amok -shooting the Mozambican military on site and beheading innocent civilians in a barbaric manner willy-nilly.

Mozambique has no capacity to handle the insurgents alone hence the loud call for help. I believe Zimbabwe is hearing these loud calls.

Since late 2019, the insurgency by the ASWJ in Cabo Delgado has been escalating by leaps and bounds, wreaking havoc in the district towns and spreading untold terror in the gas rich province. Until early this year the President Filipe Nyusi Government of Mozambique never commented on the Islamic insurgent activity and when it did it only referred to the insurgents as ‘criminals.’

These denials gave the insurgency ample time to get a foothold, recruit and grow. Not only have their ferocious attacks become more frequent in the past months, the insurgents have become more confident – attacking district centres in bold daylight. After running over a village or town, the insurgents even have spare moments for taking photographs and shooting videos (for online propaganda campaign)- flying the distinct black and white flag to show their affiliation to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Sadly – it appears the ASWJ have very little regard, if any, for the FADM- whom they have fought with a lot of success since October 2017. Their footprint is spreading as they are now active in nine of the sixteen districts of the Cabo Degaldo. Mozambique’s loud calls for help need to be answered- right now.

An Extra Ordinary Summit of the Troika on SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation held in Harare in May 2020, to discuss the situation in Mozambique urged member states to support the Government of Mozambique in fighting the insurgents. However, its rather disturbing to note that, the SADC member states-especially Zimbabwe and South Africa- seem to be taking their time to have ‘boots on the ground’ whilst the insurgents are showing a lot of bravery and gaining ground daily in their campaign to establish an Islamic caliphate in the in the gas rich Cabo Degaldo Province.

Since SADC appears to be dragging its feet- tip toeing around the problem, Zimbabwe should answer Mozambique’s call for help and deploy troops and military equipment as a matter of urgency.

Of all countries, Zimbabwe cannot afford to fold arms and watch the Cabo Degaldo insurgency from a distance for several reasons. Mozambique is our neighbour and if any instability is allowed to grow, it will eventually spill over as was the case with RENAMO in the 1980s. We are obliged to stand by the people of Mozambique in the fight against this scourge

Considering the sacrifice the late Samora Machel and the people of Mozambique made towards the independence of Zimbabwe- not to mention the human and material cost they suffered-we cannot and should never stand and watch as they are beheaded-ubuntu does not allow us to do that. A misfortune that befalls a neighbour should be our business, therefore, an attack on Mozambique should be treated as an attack on Zimbabwe.

Morestill, of great commercial value for landlocked Zimbabwe in Mozambique is the Beira Corridor-our major and shortest trade route- an essential gateway for our imports and exports to and from the Indian Ocean and outside world of commerce.

Should Zimbabwe choose to ignore the calls for help, the repercussions will be felt in the near future when the tentacles of the insurgents grow long enough to stretch over the eastern border to reach Manicaland.

Islamic insurgency, if allowed to establish a foothold, is almost impossible to uproot, Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabab in Somalia are good examples. If the ASJW insurgency is not tackled now in its infancy SADC should brace up for a long brutal fight in the near future.

The fact that a private individual, Retired Colonel Dyck’s troops and equipment, are playing a significant role in helping the Mozambican military in the war against the insurgents in a region where there are military giants like Tanzania, South Africa and Angola is a sure embarrassment.

If unchecked this insurgency has the potential of engulfing the region like a veld fire. The insurgency in Cabo Degaldo needs to be treated with the seriousness it deserves; very urgent and firm action is required.

The decision by SADC to support Maputo against the insurgents, though commendable, may soon become useless unless deployment is done now and the ASJW is engaged right away. What is happening in Northern Mozambique is a real war – the insurgency has so far caused the loss of over 1000 lives, and over 100 000 more have been internally displaced after having fled their villages-and strangely Harare is not even perturbed.

An attack on Mozambique is equally an attack on the Republic of Zimbabwe.

Daesh is in Mozambique, if we snooze we risk having our throats (and those of our spouses and children) slit open

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