SAPSN Solidarity Statement on the Conflict in Mozambique

Leaders and representatives of Social Movements and Civil Society Organisations in the Southern African People’s Solidarity Network, having met in a spirit of regional unity and progressive ideological clarity during a virtual “SADC Solidarity Summit with the People of Mozambique,” offer the following analysis and demands:

Our Concerns

The conflict in Cabo Delgado province, Northern Mozambique, is a natural resource conflict precipitated by the discovering and concessioning of gas deposits to multinational oil companies by the government of Mozambique, with complicit local elites lacking due regard for the human rights, developmental, and climate impacts on local communities. The leaders of SADC and the African Union have failed to meet the people of Mozambique’s legitimate expectations for a holistic, coordinated and timely response to the conflict, since its onset in October 2017. Only because of an attack on March 24 that led to the deaths of several expatriate oil industry and related service workers (and scores of local residents), did SADC leadership meet during April to plot what appears to be mainly a military response.

The imminent approval of SADC’s military intervention by Heads of State may well further escalate the conflict, not only locally in Cabo Delgado but across the region, given the potential for insurgent blowback in Southern Africa’s vulnerable cities. Furthermore, the history of sub-imperial military interventionism by two main SADC armies, the SA National Defence Force and Zimbabwe Defence Force, shows a tendency to mainly protect elite economic interests (especially Johannesburg and Harare firms linked to the respective ruling parties, engaged in extractivist operations in the DRC and Central African Republic). This recent history, alone, renders both morally inappropriate to intervene in Northern Mozambique, especially on behalf of multinational oil corporations from South Africa, France, the U.S., Italy, China and South Korea. We also have concern about their roles in repressing their own countries’ civilians on their home turf, most recently to prosecute Covid-19 lockdowns with inadequate sensitivity to desperate conditions. Corruption and incompetence in the SANDF and ZDF are also notorious, and the poorly-paid Mozambican army itself was accused by many civilians of looting Palma after the insurgents departed. Given their records, as well as the neocolonialist role of U.S. and Portuguese military “trainers”, the SADC intervention force is a recipe not for peace-keeping but for new types of conflict generation.

An Islamic-extremism theory, added to a narcotics-trafficking theory, are usually advanced to explain the insurgency. These theories, especially as promoted by the U.S. State Department in recent weeks, wrongly define the problem. They sow the seeds of Islamophobia in Mozambique and in the region. Christians and Muslims have peacefully coexisted in Cabo Delgado, and elsewhere in Southern Africa, for centuries. As such we refuse narratives that obscure the roots of the conflict which are the militarist mode of enclave-based extractivism, which amplify existing social and economic inequalities and the standard accountability deficits evident across Africa’s extractive sector.

Southern Africa is not for sale. We condemn our leaders’ irresponsible granting of unaccountable resource concessions, tax incentives and investment deals. These deals between local elites and extractive industries are exceptionally destructive throughout the region, as they violate rights of future generations to the natural wealth now being depleted by institutions with track records of corrupting African leaders. Through the extractive industries’ Illicit Financial Flows alone, several tens of billions of dollars are annually secreted out of Southern African economies. It is partly for this reason that the “Right to Say No!” to extractive industries resonates in so many places.

Read the full statement here(550KB PDF)

Source: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition

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