South Africa ready to help Mozambique counter insurgents, upon request

Fifty-two villagers killed by jihadists in northern Mozambique (AFP)
Attacks have been carried out since October 2017 in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province. (AFP)

South Africa says it is ready to assist insurgent-hit Mozambique with support from its intelligence services or military, as long as Mozambique requests for the help first, South Africa’s foreign minister, Naledi Pandor said on Wednesday.

Attacks from terrorists linked to Islamic State have been on the rise this year in Mozambique, causing alarm to energy majors developing huge natural gas deposits in the country and governments elsewhere in southern Africa.

The southern African regional body SADC had asked Mozambique to provide a roadmap on the assistance it might need, which would then be discussed before any action was chosen, Pandor told a parliamentary committee.

“If it is more intelligence support, if it is the South African navy patrolling the coast, if it is assistance from our defence force, we as South Africa stand ready, but we must have that indication from the government of Mozambique,” Pandor said.

She added that, if Mozambique needs assistance, it would ask for it, but should South Africa jump into Mozambique without any request from the country and without any indication as to where it needs help, “I’m not sure that we can do that.”

Attacks began in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado In 2017 but gathered pace this year with insurgents seizing key towns for short periods and increasingly hitting military or strategic targets.