Editor's Comment

SADC unity key to stopping terrorists

WHEN a neighbour is in distress, it is only logical and sensible to step forward and help out. It would be folly to ignore a neighbour whose house is on fire or is under attack by criminals. If you don’t help, the fire could spread to your home or the criminals could attack you next and you are unlikely to get neighbourly assistance because of your earlier aloofness.
This is the situation that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) finds itself in with one of its members, Mozambique, under stress of terrorists. Good neighbourliness demands that SADC members come to Mozambique’s assistance, and the earlier this is done the better. Thankfully, this is precisely what the SADC states resolved in Malawi yesterday at an Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of SADC. It is good that the SADC countries are not dithering on this matter. They are decisive in what must be done to counter violent extremism in Mozambique’s Delgado Province. Insurgents linked to the Islamic State have staged attacks since October 2017 in Cabo Delgado, a coastal province rich in natural gas reserves and host to an estimated US$60 billion worth of international investment in gas projects.
The violence has left about 3,100 people dead, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), which tracks political violence around much of the world. UNICEF estimates that the conflict there also has displaced nearly 856,000 people, nearly half of them children. Through the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM), member states have selflessly committed personnel, equipment and finances. SAMIM was deployed in July 2021 following approval by the extraordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Maputo on June 23, 2021. SAMIM was mandated to support the government of Mozambique to combat terrorism and acts of violent extremism in Cabo Delgado. Since then, SAMIM, with the help of troops from Rwanda, has made significant progress since the deployment. SAMIM has been neutralising the terrorist threat by restoring security, created a secure environment and restored a fair measure of safety in Cabo Delgado Province.
Evidently, however, there still is a lot more to be done to completely neutralise the insurgents. This is why yesterday’s summit was important. There is need for renewed commitment to the fight and this is precisely what the leaders did yesterday.
The summit, attended by President Hakainde Hichilema, is a morale booster to the SAMIM troops. The summit considered a report of the Organ Troika Summit plus Personnel Contributing Countries (PCCs) and Mozambique held on January 11, 2022 and commended the SAMIM leadership and the troops for conducting successful operations and for the achievements recorded since the deployment of the mission in July 2021. He said terrorism would reverse gains SADC has made in its four decades of existence. In a communique yesterday, the summit commended member states that have provided personnel, equipment and financial support, as well as making additional pledges towards the deployment of the SADC Mission in Mozambique for their commitment to regional peace and security and especially the enormous sacrifice made despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economies. The summit commended the SADC region for its unwavering commitment to peace and security, and for using its own resources in addressing and combating terrorism in Cabo Delgado, which is a unique precedent on the African continent. The summit commended acts of solidarity exhibited in the form of food pledges made by Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe in order to alleviate the suffering faced by the internally displaced persons in Cabo Delgado Province in Mozambique. All this support is a clear show of good neighbourliness. The costs for this support are high, but they could be higher if not given now and in sufficient quantities. As President Hichilema said on return from the summit last night, if the insurgency spreads to the neighbouring countries, the costs of countering these malcontents would be much high. So it is best, as resolved by the SADC Summit, to stop the insurgents where they are before they spread their terror.

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