The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is extremely concerned over the deadly attacks in the North of Mozambique (Cabo Delgado), which have left an estimated number of 2600 people killed, many more injured or missing, and displaced over 670,000. Mozambique has been battling the Isis-linked insurgents in Cabo Delgado since 2017, although it is unclear whether they have a unified aim. Since the first ambush, the attacks have spread to several districts in the region and have become more frequent. Dozens of decapitated bodies were left strewn along roadsides. Children have been indiscriminately slaughtered, and Islamist militants have gone door-to-door, dragging out innocent people caught in the crossfire.
Three years later, the mystery surrounding the identity and motivation of this group persists. Locally, they are known as al-Shabab (the youth), but the group has no known connection to the Somalia’s jihadi group with a similar name. In the most recent attack, dozens of innocent people were killed when the Islamist insurgents launched a raid on the northern town of Palma on March 24th 2021. The insurgent attack happened on the coastal town which sits near the natural gas projects worth $60bn that are intended to transform Mozambique’s economy. Some observers recently predicted that Mozambique could become one of the top ten LNG producers in the world. The development of the projects had led to the area becoming a hive of economic activity.
The South African High Commission in Maputo on Monday said it has accounted for the 43 South Africans affected by the recent attacks in northern Mozambique. We also extend our condolences to the family and friends of Adrian Nel (South African), who lost his life in the attack. We further extend our deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones throughout the duration of these gruesome attacks.
Whilst we note that the African Union has “called for urgent action after Mozambique jihadist attack”, this response to the catastrophic situation in the country does not assist anything. The AU could appoint a special envoy to Mozambique or command the AU special envoy on women, peace and security to investigate. We need more practical interventions from the continental body.
Mozambique shares borders with Malawi, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania—all members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). If the insurgency is not checked soon, it could spread throughout the region—threatening the peace and stability of the other member states. The issue here is that SADC is not mounting a coordinated response to the looming danger. However, we remain hopeful that the upcoming Urgent SADC Troika Meeting called by the President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi, to discuss the Mozambique insurgency will produce some hands-on outcomes.
We further urge the Mozambican government to step out of the cocoons of comfort and seek assistance from its neighbouring countries and other countries on the continent, to solve the situation through collective efforts and avoid any further harm to its people. South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor has on countless occasions mentioned that SADC had asked Mozambique to provide a roadmap on the assistance it might need, which would then be deliberated upon before a course of action was chosen. This is a clear indication that South Africa is ready to assist.
COSATU continues to maintain strong relations with our allies in the working class movement, the Mozambique Workers’ Organization (Organização dos Trabalhadores de Moçambique) (OTM), whom we extend our deepest solidarity to, during this difficult time for the workers in Cabo Delgado. COSATU urges all workers’ movements in the Southern African region, progressive forces and peace-loving people of the world, to stand in solidarity with the people of Mozambique as the country deals with multiple and overlapping crises, including military conflicts and religious extremism.
Cosatu Head Office
Cell: 072 535 1577