SADC should change tact on Mozambique crisis

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has traditionally been a peaceful regional bloc.

Zimbabwe and her peers in this region have played critical roles in maintaining this peace.

The tide appears to be turning now as Islamist insurgency in neighbouring Mozambique destabilises a region rich in natural gas.

Media reports show that the United States has asked Zimbabwe to help combat militants in Mozambique.

Authorities in Harare said they are ready to do so once the world’s largest economy lifts sanctions imposed on Harare, we are told.

Looking closely at the dynamics of the geopolitics, one can only look at the state of Zimbabwe’s economy to see if the southern African nation can endure any long conflict.

Most indicators show that Zimbabwe’s economy is frail and may not be in position to sustain any military intervention beyond the country’s borders.

Memories of the Pyrrhic victory in the Great Lakes region are fresh.

That Zimbabwe is endowed with more than 40 base minerals, one of the largest known platinum reserves is something that many students of international affairs are accustomed to.

The recent discovery of oil reserves in Muzarabani and the country’s lithium project all point towards a country with immense potential that is yet to be fully harnessed.

While Zimbabwe is generally considered to be resource-rich, we should be mindful that such endowments have also come at a cost in other territories.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is considered to be the richest country in terms of mineral resources.

The Inga Dam in the DRC has the potential to power the African continent. Yet millions are living in abject poverty and total darkness.

Scholars have coined the phrase, the Paradox of plenty in trying to explain why nations endowed with resources struggle to extricate themselves from poverty.

Colonialism has for years stood out as the main factor retarding development in Africa. But there is another school of thought— governance is the bane of development in many countries.

This has been a subject of immense contestation.

Zimbabwe’s role in promoting peace in the region is well documented.

The country’s armed forces have a long history of involvement in neighbouring Mozambique, Angola, Somalia and the DRC. During the liberation struggle the guerrilla trained combatants used Mozambique as a base from which to launch attacks on then White-ruled Rhodesia in a 1970s liberation war.

Zimbabwean troops intervened to quell a rebellion by militants affiliated to Mozambique’s opposition Renamo party in the 1980s and 1990s.

The Mozambican port of Beira is strategic for landlocked Zimbabwe’s imports. But as the economy flounders and statesmen give diplomacy a chance, SADC should take decisive steps to quell the insurgency which threatens stability of the region.

This cannot be treated as a Mozambique issue as the ripple effects of the disturbances could be felt in landlocked Zimbabwe.

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