OPINION | Instability in Mozambique, a serious threat to the region

Mozambique crisis

The unrest in Mozambique caused by militia group Ahl al-Sunnah wa al Jamma’ah  must be considered a threat to regional security. The recent capture of Palma reveals the level of infiltration tact that is systematically implemented by the terrorist group to continue capturing positions with the Northern Mozambique.

As a region, we have our own problems that are stifling our socio-economic progress. We have the problem of porous borders, smuggling syndicates, and human trafficking. This alone is a heavy burden on the region’s leadership and the worst that can ever happen is adding a murderous Islamic extremist group on top of the list.

SADC’S commitment to intervene in the Mozambique crisis is critically needed at this stage and the recent outcomes from the Harare meeting must be fulfilled. Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnagagagwa recently hosted President of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi to discuss security concerns in the region.

SADC has admitted that the terrorist attacks in Mozambique are a matter of urgency as elaborated by AU Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat “We call for urgent and co-ordinated regional and international action to address this new threat to our common security”.

How is the Insurgency growing stronger in the region?

If we are to trace the origins of the conflict in Mozambique today – it is apparent that the insurgency is aggrieved with socio-economic injustices. Cabo Delgado multinational projects including Total are worth billions of dollars and that wealth is not transferred to the marginalized northerners who continue to anguish in poverty.

The confirmed links  of Ahl al-Sunnah wa al Jamma’ah  to Islamic State  are a real concern to SADC security. The amount of terror caused by the IS in Syria and Iraq is a point of reference to how much the region is at the risk on infiltration. It is not only a matter of controlling smuggling routes and hijacking mega industrial projects. It is also part of IS agenda to enforce sharia law and establish an Islamic State. Cabo Delgado Muslim population then becomes an IS stronghold in Southern Africa. Just like the bandits who are terrorising small business owners in Mamelodi Pretoria calling themselves Boko Haram. They continue to carryout extortion and robbery campaigns to keep their criminal activities alive and Police intelligence must crush that criminal movement.

Recent events reveal that the setting up of the large engineering companies and plants in Northern Mozambique led to the displacement of locals who were practicing artisanal mining in the gem fields of the province before the attacks began in 2017. Since 2012 local companies driven by greed, quickly took possession of mining rights in the area and colluded with British mining company, Gemfields to prospect more than 300 square kilometers of land. To forge good relations with the locals, Gemfields promised to contribute towards socio-economic development in the area by building schools and hospital, a promise that was never fulfilled.

The displacement of the northerners from their land reserves and banning of artisanal mining in the area which was controlled by foreign capital and enforced by Mozambican Police. Such a situation can only cultivate distrust between a government and its’ people. This was a huge blow for the Mozambican youth who survived on mining gemstones, their displacement and created a rebellious spirit among the Muslims of the North.

Map of Southern Africa. Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa – Screen grab Google maps

More so, the unemployed youth in neighboring country Zimbabwe, are hanging on to the last hope of artisanal gold mining. It is a case of who gets to the gold first in the scramble for the precious metal. If that opportunity to mine gold is taken away from them, then there will be a serious revolt against whoever threatens their livelihood.

How much of a security threat is posed to the region?

This is a serious matter of regional security which must not be ignored. The brewing discontent of the Northerners in Mozambique must have existed long before the blood baths of 2017 . The group is on record   sworn allegiance to the Islamic State which has also claimed responsibility for series of attacks in Mozambique USING their propaganda vehicle Amaq News Agency.

The case of Mozambique youth joining the Islamic State is evidence of serious radicalization. It is inconceivable for a country in Southern Africa to be a stronghold of Jahid operations. Religious extremism is a vice that we are not familiar with as a region. Jihad operations are too much of a threat to ignore.  There is compelling evidence of cultural infiltration and radicalization for  Ahl al-Sunnah wa al Jamma’ah  to execute Jihad operations. Their mentors IS have spilled a lot of blood in Syria, Iraq and managed to recruit Jihadists and suicide bombers across the globe. There has been a flow of information which has led to the growth of an Islamic extremist group right in our back yards.

The Mozambique forces together with mercenary groups have failed to contain the insurgency since 2017. The terrorists continue to grow like A cancer amid fragile global crisis.

The presence of jihadist in Mozambique is a serious threat to the region considering how a criminal organization identified mineral wealth in Southern Africa and managed to radicalize and corrupt a people with religious doctrine.

It is a case of exploitation – whereby large terrorist organizations infiltrated Mozambique and identified a neglected, impoverished people in the remote parts of the country. Whatever bait has been used to corrupt a people against their own nation, Ahl al-Sunnah wa al Jamma’ah ideology must be wiped out in the region.

The failure for Mozambique forces to recapture the Province of Cabo Delgado is evidence of an existing threat. The terrorist group consists of radicalized killers who are violating international treaties and law. Whoever is in the group of terrorists is guilty of treason against the Mozambican government and the African continent. The worst crime one could ever be charged by the own countrymen.

Ahl al-Sunnah wa al Jamma’ah’s methods of operandi show familiarity with the Mozambican terrain. They continue to assault and defend positions against the Mozambican forces. Last week during the ‘siege of Palma’, it is reported that the terrorists captured the town with average resistance from the Mozambican forces. It is alleged that the Mozambican forces ran out of armor during battle.  

It is clear – the youth of Mozambique who were born and bred in the region have received radicalization which continues to permeate the country.

Religion has played an important role in the radicalization ofAhl al-Sunnah wa al Jamma’ah killers.

they have done a lot of damage. In recent Palma attacks, French energy giant Total was forced to stop operations at a gas project and evacuate workers.

So, there is a high risk for the insurgency in Mozambique to spread because it took radicalization and the spread of ideas to the Youth of Cabo Delgado to join IS and wage a war against their own Motherland. This is demonstrably the case with Mozambique.

The region has witnessed the manifestation of radicalism with South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters. The EFF continues to hold a strong argument in the expropriation of land without compensation and committed to transfer wealth to black people. The political party is ready to defend their position by any means necessary from scenes of manhandling and fist fighting in parliament. They are determined to crush racism to the extent of reacting to any injustices seeking to undermine black people.

Unlike what is happening in Mozambique, the EFF is a political party that fully participates in parliament and contributes to the nation building.

We already have a disgruntled youth in both South Africa and Zimbabwe. The diminishing living conditions are causing frustrations fueled by the surging unemployment rates. The land borders are porous, it has been difficult for both governments to control immigration. Such problems can open smuggling routes and easy infiltration.