The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) claimed this week it has brought “calm and stability” to the districts of Mueda, Macomia and Nangade, in Cabo Delgado province, but how much credit SAMIM can take for that is being questioned.
In a statement sent to media on Wednesday, SAMIM said that it had reopened the roads connecting Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado province, with the towns of Awasse, Nangade, Mueda and Macomia. According to the statement, the reopening of the roads which had been blocked by insurgents, has made it possible for citizens to return to their homes.
The district of Nangade did see a mass return of displaced people last week, according to Zitamar’s correspondent in the district. The returnees have come from several areas where they had resettled following terrorist incursions, including Montepuez, Pemba, Chiure, Ancuabe, Namuno, Balama, Mueda, and from places in the neighbouring province of Nampula.
Besides reopening roads linking the different districts, SAMIM says it contributed to restoring electric power in Mueda town, putting an end to more than a year of blackout caused by an insurgent attack on the Awasse substation, and allowing the resumption of telecommunications and banking services there.
Zitamar’s correspondent in Nangade confirmed that grocery shelves are gradually being filled up as supply chains are restored. They also reported that public transport links between Mueda and Nangade are operating again with regular routes.
While a sense of security in Nangade is increasing, however, the public has also been questioning the effectiveness of the SADC mission — particularly in comparison with the Rwandan forces, whose recent military successes have made headlines. In Nangade town, where a SAMIM contingent was posted, soldiers have not been seen patrolling the area, and there were no signs of them pursuing insurgents in the surrounding forests where they are thought to be hiding. “Since [the SADC] troops arrived in the town, they haven’t gone to the bush,” our correspondent said.
There have been other reports denouncing SAMIM inaction. At the end of August, Botswana troops were accused of “holidaying” in Mozambique. “Nearly a month after their deployment to Mozambique, the members of the Botswana Defence Force have not yet engaged in combat activities. Some even took advantage of the free time to visit the beach,” read a damning report in Botswana newspaper The Voice last month. The article came a few days after Mozambique’s Zambeze newspaper reported that SAMIM had failed to cut off the escape route of the insurgents fleeing south to Macomia, from the offensive by Rwandan forces in Mbau, due to a delay in its deployment.
Gatete Ruhumuliza, a Rwandan pro-regime commentator who was embedded with the Rwandan forces during the first weeks of their deployment in Cabo Delgado, said on Twitter yesterday that the SAMIM statement was “misleading,” and that the SADC forces were “nowhere to be seen” in the districts they claimed to have been in while he was there last month.
The SADC mission in Mozambique was officially launched on 9 August. A month later, the mission announced that it had executed a raid on a terrorist position in Mbau, capturing one insurgent as well as documents, vehicles and weapons. The raid was the first combat mission led by SADC troops. The mission is made up of soldiers from Tanzania, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa.
This article was produced by Zitamar and Mediafax under the Cabo Ligado project, in collaboration with ACLED. The contents of the article are the sole responsibility of Zitamar News.