The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has begun withdrawing its troops from Cabo Delgado province in preparation for a complete exit by 15 July this year, the organisation confirmed in a statement yesterday.
The SADC Executive Secretary, Elias Magosi, recently visited Cabo Delgado, where SADC troops have been fighting Islamic State-backed insurgents since July 2021, to “oversee and appreciate the process of Drawdown and Exit Plan from the Province,” according to the statement published by SADC on its website on Sunday, 28 January. The statement noted that SADC decided in August 2023 to begin the withdrawal of troops by 15 December, and end the mission by 15 July 2024.
Although the end of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) in July has been signalled since July last year, this is the first time SADC has publicly confirmed the withdrawal and that the process is already underway.
In July 2023, a leaked agenda from a meeting of SADC leaders reported that member states had agreed to end SAMIM within a year. In December, the President of Botswana, Dr Mokgweetsi E.K. Masisi, announced that SAMIM should end by July 2024. This was echoed in January by General Jacob John Mkunda, the chief of the Tanzania People’s Defence Force.
Despite its mandate to neutralise the threat of terrorism and restore law and order, SADC troops are set to leave Cabo Delgado in a precarious security situation, just as TotalEnergies’ $20bn liquified natural gas project is expected to resume operations. Confirmation of the SADC drawdown comes during an escalation in fighting with insurgents, who in recent weeks have attacked along the N380 highway, taken control of much of the Macomia district coast, and sent fighters deep into the south of Cabo Delgado.
For further analysis of what SAMIM’s departure means for Cabo Delgado, see our new piece: