SADC to Pull Mission From Mozambique, Concentrate Troops in DRC

What You Need to Know:

Mozambique’s Foreign Minister Verónica Macamo has announced the withdrawal of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Military Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) from the country’s northern Cabo Delgado region, following an extraordinary summit of the SADC’s organ on Defence, Politics, and Security held in Lusaka over the weekend. 

“Africa has many problems and currently SADC has two missions, in the DRC and in Mozambique…and SADC thought that, for Mozambique, if other countries continue to support us with material, including lethal material, we can effectively overcome terrorism,” said Macamo. 

SAMIM has been active in Mozambique since July 2021, having its deployment extended a further 12 months in August 2023 to July 2024. The SADC summit in Zambia’s capital of Lusaka agreed upon the withdrawal of the mission’s troops in a gradual manner, with the mission ending come July. 

The SADC’s Organ declared its intent to concentrate its troop’s in the Democratic Republic of the Congo following the pull out from Mozambique. 

The SADC has maintained a force in the DRC, known as SAMIDRC, since December 15 2023, but has been heavily criticized due to its lack of heavy weaponry and in particular, airpower. 

As previously reported, “SAMIDRC’s main directive is to reduce the threat posed by various rebel groups operating in the region, specifically M23, something which the East African Community Regional Force and the United Nations failed to do in 20 years. Insurgencies in Africa have historically proven immensely difficult to defend against. Vulnerable communities enable insurgents to entangle themselves with the local population leading to violence enacted from within as well as violence perpetrated by security forces unable to distinguish civilian from insurgent.

Furthermore, expansive jungle terrain provides optimal cover for insurgents on the move. During the drawdown of the MONUSCO mission, reports noted that extensive air support would be vital to the success of any counterinsurgency operation that follows. According to Thomas Mandrup, an African security expert from Stellenbosch University, the SADF has only one operational C-130 transport aircraft, and just eight helicopters (five Oryx, three Rooivalk) to cover all domestic and international missions.” 

The Details: 

However, the Foreign Minister admitted that the SADC nations have struggled to finance the mission in Cabo Delgado, which seeks to disrupt the actions of non-state armed groups (NSAG’s) against the region’s civilian population. 

Ansar al-Sunna is the most active group in the region, with ties to the Islamic State (known locally as al-Shabab, but holds no relation to Somalia’s al-Shabaab), whose methods are characterized by extreme brutality and has resulted in the internal displacement of 112,894 civilians since December 22nd 2023. 

91,239 people have fled Chiure District since February due to repeated attacks, which occurred during the harvest season. As a result, thousands of fleeing civilians are facing acute food shortages. 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, at least 80% of Mozambicans rely on agriculture for food and income. Increased attacks by NSAG’s threaten their livelihoods and contribute to food crises, which is particularly dire given that much of Southern Africa is experiencing poor crop harvests due to El Niño related flooding and drought cycles. 

In an SADC statement made on January 28th, the community claimed, “the Mission (SAMIM) intends to leave a secure and stable environment that ensures the safety of civilians.” 

The mission intends to hand over counterinsurgency operations to the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM), whose soldiers suffer from irregular pay cycles and accessibility to food while deployed. 

Analysis: 

The departure of SAMIM troops from Mozambique is likely to create a security vacuum and further embolden NSAG’s to increase attacks on strategically important villages. This will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in the country and fuel recruitment to NSAG’s as villagers, particularly young men seek a constant food supply, which is often promised by NSAG’s to potential recruits. 

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Currently working as an Editor for The ModernInsurgent and writing for Atlas News, her interests include conflict politics, history, yoga and meditation.

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