This week, the President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, met separately with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Kigali and leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Lilongwe, Malawi to discuss the war on ‘Al-Sunnah-wa-Jama’ ah the insurgents, who are affiliated with the Islamic State.
In Kigali, Kagame and Nyusi signed a formal cooperation agreement that included conditions for the Rwandan Defense Forces (RDF) to train Mozambican forces.
In Lilongwe, SADC leaders agreed to extend the deployment of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (Samim). The RDF and Samim have both been in Mozambique since July last year.
the communicated of the SADC summit did not specify for how long Samim’s mission had been extended, but the officials present said that Samim would remain for another three months in its current form. These are mainly special forces from South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania and Lesotho who carry out search and destroy missions against the insurgents. After that, the mission would be expanded to include infantry to consolidate territory seized from insurgents and restore civilian infrastructure. Then the mission would be reassessed in July.
But, to the surprise of many observers, Rwanda and SADC were not represented at each other’s meetings. This has raised concerns not only about the dangers to the military mission, but also to the human rights and governance transparency of efforts to bring peace to the war zone, which is mostly in the province. the northernmost of Mozambique, Cabo Delgado.
Adriano Nuvunga, executive director of the Center for Democracy and Development in the Mozambican capital, Maputo, asked on Thursday why Kagame had not been invited to the SADC summit in Lilongwe “so that they could have a meeting instead of of them”.
Speaking at a webinar organized by the Southern Africa Liaison Office and the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, Nuvunga noted that Rwanda had not been mentioned either at the SADC summit this week, nor the last, held in October last year, when SADC leaders decided to extend Samim’s deployment by three months, until January 15.
“Rwanda seems to be…the elephant in the room,” he said. “They don’t talk about it.”
Nuvunga said SADC’s failure to engage Kagame and Mozambique’s failure to reveal the terms of its deal with Rwanda raised concerns among Mozambicans about Rwanda’s responsibilities. It also raised concerns about human rights accountability.
An official confirmed that Rwanda’s deployment was not discussed at the Lilongwe summit. “It is very unlikely that this will ever happen,” he added, saying the Samim and Rwandan military were coordinating on the ground, so there was no need for political leaders to cooperate.
However, Liesl Louw-Vaudran, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, said it still didn’t make sense that Kagame and Rwanda weren’t included in SADC discussions on the overall strategy.
“I think if [South African President Cyril] Ramaphosa invites Kagame to the next event, he can control the narrative better and make it clear that this is a SADC issue,” she said.
Louw-Vaudran added that she believed the lack of communication between SADC and Rwanda was linked to bad blood between Rwanda and South Africa over Pretoria’s belief that Kagame targeted Rwandan dissidents in South Africa. . This includes the 2013 killing at a Sandton hotel of former Rwandan intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya.
Then Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula made it clear in July last year that South Africa was unhappy with Rwanda’s deployment of its army in Cabo Delgado ahead of SADC.
Louw-Vaudran said, however, that regardless of this tension, Kagame should have been at the top of SADC, as troop coordination was vitally important and Rwandan forces were playing a very important role in the fight against the insurgents.
The SADC summit communicated also failed to provide details of Samim’s funding. However, some sources said it was agreed that an additional budget of $29.5 million would be provided. This seems insufficient to most observers, especially since the special forces who have been fighting for six months complain of being totally under-equipped. For example, two South African Oryx utility helicopters carry special forces from four different countries. DM