Opinion

Regional action needed on Mozambique crisis

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has hinted that Zimbabwe is ready to help Mozambique quell an ISIL-linked armed which has been wreaking havoc in the neighbouring country for the past three years.

The armed group has besieged the gas-rich Cabo Delgado province and just a few days ago the militants beheaded 50 people.

The attacks on civilians could have jolted President Mnangagwa.

Tweeting on Tuesday, Mnangagwa said he was “deeply shocked by recent reports of terrorist activity in Mozambique” adding “these acts of barbarity must be stamped out wherever they are found”.

“Zimbabwe is ready to assist in any way we can.

The security of our region is paramount in the protection of our people,” he tweeted.

Mozambique seems to be on her own as the armed group terrorises the province while regional peers are fixated with measures to contain the spread of the Coronavirus.

The about turn by the President Mnangagwa’s administration comes after a rebuffed proposal by the US for Zimbabwe to step in.

At that time, Zimbabwe said the US utterances were not sincere as it wanted its interests protected.

Zimbabwe is said to have told the US to first remove the economic embargo which has weighed down the country for more than a decade.

In September, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that over 300,000 people have fled their homes and villages, abandoning their crops and leaving them completely reliant on humanitarian assistance.

The UN agency said it urgently required US$4.7m per month to assist those internally displaced in northern Mozambique.

Without additional funding WFP will be forced to reduce food rations as early as December, it warned.

WFP said about a thousand refugees have crossed into neighbouring Tanzania, deepening concerns among the international community about the regionalisation of the conflict.

What this means is that it’s no longer a Mozambican issue alone but a crisis that has the potential to affect the Sadc bloc.

Regional leaders should be conversing on how the crisis could be averted.

There is a need for urgency as the displacements could spawn another crisis: spreading the Covid-19 pandemic.

WFP said the displacements have the potential to accelerate the spread of the virus since Cabo Delgado had the second-highest number of Covid-19 cases in Mozambique.

Zimbabwe has its own problems and citizens will not tolerate an illadvised intervention in a conflict which may take years to end.

The DRC conflict is one example in which Zimbabwe paid the price in trying to help a regional ally.

What is required now is for regional members to combine forces to tackle the crisis.

Regional countries are buffeted by the effects of the Covid-19 crisis but they cannot watch while Mozambique burns.

Battered and bruised regional members can pool their efforts to assist an ally as the “weak become strong when they are united”, according to the late German poet, philosopher, physician and historian Friedrich Schiller.

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