Mozambican jihadist insurgency only to be discussed behind closed doors

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the jihadist insurgency crisis will be discussed in the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence.
Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the jihadist insurgency crisis will be discussed in the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence.
Deaan Vivier, Netwerk24
  • The Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado has been the epicentre of attacks by a group identified as Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah.
  • The DA will ask a slew of questions on the matter to Mapisa-Nqakula and State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo.
  • Even after a threat from ISIS, the government has been loath to speak about the matter. 

The government continues to draw a veil of secrecy over the jihadist insurgency in Mozambique.

Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the matter would be discussed in the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI) - a parliamentary committee that only meets behind closed doors and whose members face jail time if they were to publicise the content of the committee.

A guerrilla group known as Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah has been behind a string of deadly and violent terrorist attacks in Mozambique's northernmost province of Cabo Delgado. It said to be affiliated to ISIS, and in recent months the attacks have escalated.

ALSO READ | Fresh jihadist violence hits northern Mozambique

In a written question, DA MP Kobus Marais asked whether Mapisa-Nqakula intended to brief the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans and Joint Standing Committee on Defence about Islamic insurgency activities in northern Mozambique and whether she intended to request that such a briefing was in a closed meeting.

"All matters pertaining to the national security of other countries, especially within SADC member states are presented and discussed at the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence as and when required," read Mapisa-Nqakula's full response.

Marais' question follows from a question by his colleague, Mimmy Gondwe, who asked whether Military Intelligence had found there was potential for the increasing Islamic insurgent activities to spread to Southern African Development Community (SADC) states.

Mapisa-Nqakula's answer was the first - and thus far only - public expression of concern from the government the violence in Mozambique could spread.

"Defence Intelligence can confirm that there is an increase of Islamic insurgency activities currently in the province of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, and these have the potential to spread to other provinces and neighbouring Southern African Development Community states," read her answer.

Gondwe said in a statement on Sunday the DA had submitted "a slew of parliamentary questions" to Mapisa-Nqakula and State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo on the insurgency.

Among the DA's questions, are the following:

1. Is the insurgency becoming increasingly sophisticated, coordinated and militant in nature?

2. Which Islamist extremist group is behind the insurgency? Who is supporting this group at both a local and international level? What is the group’s motive in this regard?

3. What factors are contributing towards or fueling the insurgency?

4. Are there any links between the insurgency and organised criminal activities such as drug trafficking?

5. Are there any links between the insurgency and the offshore Total SA led billion-dollar gas project site situated 60 km south of Mocimboa Praia?

6. What has been the response of the government of Mozambique to the insurgency and more specifically, the response of the military in Mozambique?

7. Are private military contractors being used to counter the insurgency? If yes, who is making use of these private military contractors and will they continue to operate once the recommended regionally coordinated regional and military approach is concretised?

8. What is the nature of the regionally coordinated political and military approach that has been recommended as a response to the insurgency? Which countries were involved in the formulation and articulation of this approach?

9. When are the plans for the approach likely to be finalised and will these plans be made public?

"The South Africa public needs the assurance that its government is taking all the necessary steps to mitigate the impact of the mounting insurgency in Mozambique and ensuring a well co-ordinated approach is taken by all the potentially involved role players, including our intelligence agencies and the defence force," said Gondwe in her statement.

"The DA reiterates its call on the minister of defence to urgently engage her counterparts in the SADC region regarding the insurgency in Mozambique".

Even after a threat from ISIS earlier this month, the government has been loath to publicly speak about the conflict, which started in October 2017, claimed more than 1 000 lives and displaced more than 210 000 people in Cabo Delgado.

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