By Piers Pigou, for the Cabo Ligado February 2022 monthly report, published in full here
February saw Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi traveling widely in a bid to secure further support and funding for operations against the insurgency in Cabo Delgado. He met regularly with African allies and ended the month with the prospect of further EU support appearing positive.
His February travels came after a January in which Maputo was involved in major security discussions with continental partners, with allies committing to extending support for counter-terrorism efforts in northern Mozambique. These discussions included the SADC summit, the Rwanda-Mozambique security summit in Kigali, and meetings with the AU’s Peace and Security Council. Nyusi also hosted Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan and TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanné. Both visits focused on developments in the security situation in Cabo Delgado.
This set the scene for a busy month of travel in February for Nyusi, who was intent on exploring additional sources of funding for counterinsurgency operations and reassuring investors and partners over the current approach to the northern insurgency. South African President and chairperson of SADC’s Organ for Politics, Defence and Security Cyril Ramaphosa on 3 February visited troops from the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) for the first time since their deployment. Joining Heroes Day commemorations in Mueda, Ramaphosa emphasised South Africa’s long-standing ties to Mozambique, but made little public reference to the actual conflict.
Nyusi was in Addis Ababa for the Heads of State and Government session on 4 February and 5 February, which affirmed AU solidarity with Mozambique’s campaign against violent extremism, and commended both SADC and Rwanda for their support. The AU also called on the continent and international community to support Maputo to “effectively counter terrorism.” No further detail was included in the AU’s summit document, Decisions, Declarations, Resolution and Motion.
After the summit in Addis Ababa, Nyusi flew directly to Brussels for a three-day visit, where he held discussions with EU leaders, including the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and European Council President Charles Michel. Among the topics under discussion, Nyusi made a specific request for the EU to go beyond the support it provides through its existing military training mission program, to support the security deployments of Rwanda and SADC in Cabo Delgado. With AU endorsement and the European Peace Facility (EPF) offering greater flexibility on funding options, some support to Rwanda can be expected, although it is unlikely to satisfy Kigali and Maputo’s requirements. It is likely to be only non-lethal support. As raised in an edition of Cabo Ligado weekly last month, SADC is yet to apply for EPF funding and is instead applying for more limited support through the EU’s Emergency Response Fund. The EU has emphasised it retains an integrated approach to its support, which incorporates development and humanitarian support. Beyond military training, the EU has approved €428 million ($474.5 million) of funding to cover cooperation for the first four years of the 2021-2027 EU-Mozambique cooperation cycle.
It is unclear whether any Rwandan or SADC officials joined Nyusi to help make the case for supporting both missions. Nyusi returned home via Kigali, where he met with President Paul Kagame, discussed progress on operations in Cabo Delgado, and presumably reported on progress from the Brussels trip. The EU representative in Rwanda Nicola Bellomo reportedly confirmed that the EU is in discussions with Rwanda “to determine needed support to its interventions in Mozambique.”
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa was in Beira on 12 February on a working visit to Mozambique, which was focused on deepening economic relations. Zimbabwe’s precise role in supporting the SAMIM initiative remains unclear. During the visit, Mnangagwa announced that Zimbabwe would donate 1,000 tonnes of grain to Cabo Delgado as part of a humanitarian drive to support people living there.
While sources have confirmed that Zimbabwe Defence Forces have given limited training support to forces fighting the insurgency, exactly what this means remains unclear. Zimbabwe has not deployed as part of the SAMIM force in Cabo Delgado and it is unclear if and how this training is linked to other training missions, such as the EU Training Mission in Mozambique and the United States’ Joint Combined Exchange Training program.
Nyusi was back in Europe a few days later on 17 and 18 February, this time with other African leaders, to attend the sixth EU-Africa summit convened in Brussels. The meeting failed to deliver concrete outcomes, yet covered a raft of topics, including “peace, security and governance.” The summit’s final declaration included an undertaking to build AU-EU cooperation that will help “combat instability, radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism.” The final declaration also included a “commitment to foster our cooperation through support for adequate training, capacity building and equipment, to strengthen and scale up autonomous peace operations of African defense and security forces, including through EU missions and assistance measures, as well as support for law-enforcement capacity-building.”
The prospect of additional EU support is gaining further traction. Michel praised the joint efforts on Cabo Delgado as “an example of EU-Africa security cooperation,” and French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed support for the idea of the EU helping to underwrite peacekeeping efforts. Even if agreed, it would be months before any concrete support comes to fruition.