MOZAMBICAN President Filipe Nyusi is lobbying Zimbabwe to accept Maputo’s plan to push for bilateral military cooperation to defeat violent extremists in the country’s gas-rich northern province, The NewsHawks has established.
Nyusi visited his Zimbabwean counterpart President Emmerson Mnangagwa last weekend ahead of a crucial Southern African Development Community (Sadc) extraordinary summit which is expected to discuss whether or not the regional bloc will adopt collective military action in Cabo Delgado.
An extraordinary Sadc summit will be convened in Maputo on 20 June to further discuss the security situation in the troubled province.
As extensively reported by The NewsHawks, Mozambique is expected to veto the deployment of the Sadc standby force to Cabo Delgado after it emerged that a technical team tasked by the regional bloc to assess the situation in the conflict-troubled region failed to carry out a comprehensive job.
Adriano Nuvunga, a political scientist based in Mozambique who heads a think-tank, the Centre for Democracy and Development, said Nyusi’s visit to Harare underlined Maputo’s preference for bilateral military cooperation.
The visit also comes after France, home to global energy group Total, which abandoned its multi-billion natural gas project in the conflict-ridden region, expressed its commitment to assist Mozambique on condition that South Africa and Zimbabwe move in instead of the entire regional bloc.
“Zimbabwe is Mozambique’s number one ally in the region not South Africa. Frelimo (Mozambique’s governing party) and Zanu PF would go to hell together. With the Sadc possibility of a military deployment disappearing from the scene, Mozambique has always preferred bilateral military cooperation instead of cooperation with Sadc as a regional bloc. It is in this context that my President (Nyusi), visited your President (Mnangagwa),” Nuvunga said.
“As President Nyusi’s tenure as Sadc chair comes to an in June, his visit to Harare would also position him to strengthen bilateral relations with key Sadc members post his chairmanship. The military issue was a key issue during these discussions.”
Speaking after meeting Nyusi at State House in Harare last week, Mnangagwa said the two countries greed to revive the two countries’ Joint Permanent Commission (JPC), which had been inactive for about eight years.
“He (President Nyusi) flew from Chimoio this morning just to have a chat with me, we covered many things but most importantly we felt that the Joint Permanent Commission between Zimbabwe and Mozambique which last met as far back as 2013, should now be resuscitated going forward. He also briefed me about the security situation there,” Mnangagwa said.
A leaked detailed document of the Sadc military plan drawn by the technical team shows that regional leaders, following the technical assessment mission, wanted immediate deployment of security forces covering maritime, air and ground strategic areas.
The technical assessment team came up with a detailed deployment plan and recommended that Sadc should dispatch a force of 2 916 soldiers to Cabo Delgado to “combat and neutralise” the insurgents and recapture territory they have taken, including their capital, Mocímboa da Praia.
Ahead of the crucial Sadc meeting, Mozambique has subtly expressed its reservations to collective military action due to the complexities of the conflict.
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