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African hot air for African problems

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COLONEL Lionel Dyck is a battle-hardened retired military officer in his 70s who built his curriculum vitae in both the Rhodesian and Zimbabwean armies.

Over the decades, he has gained global prominence as a daring mercenary who rushes into African hotspots where even the angels fear to tread.

Dyck, who has spent much of his controversial life shunning the media, has suddenly begun granting interviews in the past few days.

Something is definitely afoot. After all, we learn from ancient wisdom that when you see an impala sprinting headlong into a raging veld fire, something more frightening than scorching heat is after its life.

The situation in Mozambique has become untenable. Palma, the country’s northernmost town, was overrun by Islamist insurgents last week, leading to the death of locals and expatriates. Thousands of people have fled the town, worsening a humanitarian crisis that could plunge the entire southern Africa into untold turmoil.

Dyck, as it turns out, is fretting over the lapse of his contract with the Mozambican government on 6 April.

He has warned that the imminent withdrawal of his fighters will create a yawning gap that may further compromise the country’s security.

The dynamics in the theatre of war are difficult to ignore.

There are claims that the French oil giant Total, which is heavily invested in the troubled Cabo Delgado province, is refusing to fuel Dyck’s helicopter gunships, sparking outrage.

More importantly, the crisis in Mozambique has spectacularly exposed the inept leadership in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) region. Leaders have been hand-wringing for too long.

The time has come for Sadc leaders as a collective to stop dithering and shadow boxing and openly state their position.

Petty squabbles, mutual suspicions and simmering hostilities coupled with tricky geopolitical factors are making it difficult for Sadc to move decisively as a bloc.

Botswana President and Sadc defence troika chairperson Mokgweetsi Masisi was in Harare on Wednesday for talks with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the past chair.

Although the visit is noteworthy at the symbolic level, we must remember that the time for fruitless meetings has long passed. Practical action is needed.

Much to the embarrassment of self-styled “pan-Africanists” who never waste an opportunity to flaunt their imaginary credentials, the United States government has shown a greater sense of urgency by deploying special forces instructors to Mozambique.

When it is convenient to their narrow interests, our leaders are quick to shout “African solutions for African problems”.

But the extremist violence in Mozambique is an African problem requiring an urgent African solution.
What have the regional leaders done about the crisis?-STAFF WRITER

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