Opinion & Columnist

Guard against imperialist impulses in Moza conflict

President Mnangagwa chats to his counterparts — Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi (far right), President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa (second from right), Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi (second from left) and Tanzanian Vice President Samia Suluhu — in Maputo, Mozambique, yesterday. — Picture: Presidential Photographer Joseph Nyadzayo

Kudakwashe Mugari Deputy News Editor

What is happening in Cabo Delgado Province, in northern Mozambique, should remind us all of the dangers of allowing imperialist intervention in African affairs in the era of neo-liberalism.

Imperialism has of late intervened in destructive ways in parts of Africa, Latin America and other parts of the world, leading to the escalation of conflicts, where they could have been easily resolved regionally.

President Mnangagwa was right when he spoke after attending the Extraordinary Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation Summit in Maputo on Monday.

“We made a decision to come to Maputo as a follow-up to a meeting held in Harare where we asked Mozambique to give us a comprehensive report on the fighting in Cabo Delgado Province,” he said.


“We had a meeting in Gaborone (Botswana) last month, but President Nyusi didn’t come because he had other commitments. Then he invited us to brief us on the situation and that is why we are here.

“Concerning the security situation, President Nyusi told us that the situation had improved, but the people in Cabo Delgado need humanitarian assistance. President Nyusi also told us that Britain, the United States, Portugal and Ireland approached Mozambique to offer support in the fight against the terrorists and the discussions are still going on.”

The summit was also attended by President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana (Troika chair), President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa (incoming Troika chair) and President Nyusi.

Tanzania was represented by Vice President Samia Suluhu.

Presidents Mnangagwa, Masisi and Ramaphosa make up the SADC Troika.

This summit was coming at a time when SADC leaders were closely monitoring the security situation in Mozambique and mapping out strategies to ensure insurgency activities in northern parts of the country are tackled appropriately.

The leaders from the SADC region also discussed economic cooperation and strides made in fighting Covid-19, including the need to urgently provide relief to thousands of Mozambicans who have lost livelihoods in the wake of the disturbances in Cabo Delgado province.

More than 2 000 people have been killed and about 430 000 left homeless in the conflict in the mainly Muslim province in the northern tip of Mozambique bordering Tanzania.

The Cabo Delgado militants are linked to the Islamic State (IS) group which is covertly seeking to gain a foothold in southern Africa.

The escalating conflict in the province, which has simmered over the past two years, is threatening political stability not only in Mozambique, but the entire southern Africa region which in the past experienced conflicts that led to the death of millions of people.


More importantly, the rapid Islamist insurgency is threatening the peace deal that was signed between the Mozambican government and the Renamo rebels in 1992, ending a 30-year civil war that left the country devastated. The civil conflict also affected Zimbabwe immensely and much of southern African countries sharing borders with Mozambique.

Zimbabwe had to intervene in the conflict against Renamo bandits to secure its trade routes to the Indian Ocean.

Mozambique and Zimbabwe share historical ties that date back to the war of independence in the 1970s, when Frelimo, the ruling party, supported freedom fighters in their struggle against the Rhodesian regime.

At the height of this conflict, imperialist forces supported Renamo rebels in their bid to topple President Samora Machel’s government.

Reports that Britain, the United States, Portugal and Ireland have approached Mozambique to offer support in the fight against the terrorists should remind Mozambique and the SADC region about the dangers of yester-year imperialism. There is so much vested interest in the Mozambican channel on the Indian Ocean by most of the powerful and industrialised countries.

Political analysts argue that these countries are coming with neo-colonial, racist and anti-Islam agendas using Mozambique as a playground for global politics.

France and the US have shown interest in the goings-on in Cabo Delgado and are keen to become involved in the war against Islamic insurgents on the coast of Cabo Delgado.

Paris is reported to have been discussing a military maritime cooperation agreement with Mozambique in the context of possible support in the fight against insurgents in Cabo Delgado.

“The island of Mayotte, located about 500 kilometres east of the Mozambican coastal city of Pemba, is officially part of mainland France and has an important French military base,” wrote a political analyst in an online publication. “In addition, France has several islands in the Mozambique Channel between Mozambique and Madagascar. The US government believes that the situation in Cabo Delgado is “a security threat that has a nexus to criminality, to terrorism, and to looking at sort of governance capacity, law enforcement capacity, and military capacity within Mozambique.”

Furthermore, a US private security company is reportedly recruiting Portuguese-speaking US nationals to “provide strategic and tactical advisory support services” to the Mozambique government.


The SADC region has enjoyed relative stability for years after the end of the Angolan and the Mozambican conflicts, the fall of the apartheid regime in South Africa and a partial end to the DRC conflict.

Imperialist forces have since the 1960s and 1970s brought political instability to the region.

And, if SADC countries do not unite to stop the imperialist plots and Cabo Delgado conflict, it is possible that this may escalate and spin out of control.

Even today, imperialist forces are still seeking the toppling of liberation movement-led governments in the region through subtle and indirect support of opposition political parties, as well as the funding of various “democracy”, promoting non-governmental organisations.

Strategies of neo-colonialism are being fine-tuned and the region must stand firm and guard against being used to promote the machinations of powerful and rich countries bent on exploiting the resources of African countries. Powerful countries of the West are now gradually disengaging themselves from direct involvement in Africa, without in anyway, giving up their imperial pursuits here.

They are moving away from sponsored coups of the 50s, 60s and 70s and the sponsorship of rebel movements such as UNITA in Angola and Renamo, to new forms and patterns of intervention that can easily be accepted as genuine and yet, it is part of the imperialist agenda.

Cabo Delgado has vast oil and gas deposits estimated to be worth US$60 billion, but owing to the threats from militants, development of the natural resources has been slow.

Oil and gas resources usually attract big global politics which aim to control the production and marketing of the resources.

So much is at stake for SADC and the entire African continent.

SADC must watch the space and never forget the imperialist machinations of yesterday.