Maputo — The 40th Heads of State summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), meeting in Maputo on Monday, pledged “commitment to support Mozambique in addressing terrorism and violent attacks”.
There are two foci of violence in Mozambique, though neither was mentioned specifically in the final communique from the SADC summit. One is the war waged by islamist terrorists in several districts in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, linked to the international jihadist organization calling itself Islamic State.
The other is the self-styled “Renamo Military Juntas”, a breakaway from the main opposition party, Renamo, which has staged a string of lethal attacks in the central provinces of Manica and Sofala, particularly against traffic on the main roads.
The final communique said the summit had received “an Assessment Report on emerging Security Threats in the region”, and instructed the SADC Secretariat “to prepare an action plan for its implementation, that will among others, prioritize measures to combat terrorism, violent attacks and cybercrime; and to address adverse effects of climate change”.
It welcomed the Mozambican government’s decision to bring the violent attacks in the country to SADC’s notice. This was a reference to the extraordinary meeting of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation held in Harare in May at Mozambique’s request. This meeting urged SADC member states to support the Mozambican government in the fight against terrorism in Cabo Delgado.
Like the May meeting, Monday’s summit did not specify what form solidarity with Mozambique should take.
It urged member states “to take pro-active measures to mitigate external interference, the impact of fake news and the abuse of social media, especially in electoral processes”, without mentioning any specific examples.
The summit also received a report on the political and security situation in Lesotho, from South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is the SADC facilitator to Lesotho. It commended the Lesotho government and people for the recent “smooth and peaceful transition of power”, but urged the new Lesotho government “to ensure the full and comprehensive implementation of the reform process”.
The summit was an innovation for SADC, since it was held entirely online, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The normal face-to-face meetings were banished, and the summit was made possible through video conference link-ups between the various capitals of the member states.
The communique promised there will be a face-to-face summit in Maputo in March next year – but only “if the Covid-19 situation is contained”.