17 August 2022

Foreign powers are aiding the Mozambican regime to wage a senseless ‘war on terror’ in the predominantly Muslim region of Cabo Delgado leaving over 3000 dead and a million displaced, writes Iqbal Jassat

Will the socio-economic problems in Cabo Delgado arising from decades of neglect by the Mozambican government – and which contributed to enormous poverty – be resolved by war?

Since the unrest began and displayed unmistakable signs of dismay and dissatisfaction with lack of social services and the absence of political will by the authorities to redress justified demands for equitable distribution of state resources, legitimacy of grievances have yet to be acknowledged.

And the failure by SADC to hold leaders of Mozambique to account for neglecting their responsibilities towards the underdeveloped and poverty-stricken population of Cabo Delgado before jumping into a war, is questionable.

Similar questions should also be raised about the offshore gas project by a French multinational oil company and whether the deal necessitated further violent repression of the inhabitants whose woes were compounded by the brutality of Mozambique forces.

That Cabo Delgado is predominantly a Muslim region, it was expected that their demand for civil rights would carry Islamic connotations. However to have painted the pushback as an “ISIS or Al Qaeda insurgency” as many Israeli-leaning analysts have done without regard for the facts on the ground, created a case for war.

We know that the rush to war has had serious consequences for the region as indeed for troops deployed on the ground. Thus far it appears that there isn’t an exit strategy, meaning that the war – unnecessary and meritless – may continue indefinitely while the French company and government handlers smile all the way to the bank.

European Union

To demonstrate the absence of a well defined objective marking a finish-line, apart from misleading rhetoric about crushing “Islamist terrorism”, let’s cast a glance at Presidency Filipe Nyusi’s recent trip to Europe.

Reports indicate that he claims to have secured more aid including mysterious “equipment” from the European Union (EU). No details about what is meant by “equipment”, nor what it entails. However, the narrative of assisting Mozambique to “fend off insurgents” remains as misleading as before the deployment of Rwandan and SADC troops.

No reference to the glaring lack of social services, underdevelopment and an array of unjust discriminatory practices. To “fend off insurgents” is thus a ploy to conceal Mozambique’s inefficiency and utter inadequacy – a shameful blot on the Frelimo leadership.

To date by all accounts almost a million people have been displaced by the unjust war and more than 3 000 have been declared dead.

How many will be uprooted and killed before it dawns on the SADC leadership that the war is less about an “Islamist insurgency” and more about protecting French interest in the oil-rich province?

While the current focus in South Africa is on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s leadership and the deep malaise the country finds itself in due to a number of factors including corruption, state capture, joblessness, poverty and reckless governance, we must not shy away from asking tough questions.

The issue of Cabo Delgado and the motivation to deploy SADF troops has to feature prominently in South Africa’s quest for accountability and transparency.

How much of it had to do with faulty intelligence sourced or provided by foreign agencies who have not reconciled with the fact that America’s ill-fated war on terror was destined to fail notwithstanding the enormous damage caused and millions perished?

To extend its reach in Southern Africa is both unwise and foolish.

*Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the Media Review Network, Johannesburg.

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