Don’t turn a blind eye to Mozambique

Last week we told you about the conflict in Mozambique. It’s the regional story that has everyone’s attention – and so it should. 

A quick recap: Energy companies Sasol and Total are developing a huge gas find in a province called Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique. It is one of the biggest gas discoveries in Africa and could have revolutionised the impoverished country. But locals haven’t seen any improvement to their lot, while their country’s leaders have lined their pockets. Local militant insurgency started in 2017, but it’s intensified over the years. Late last month, a well organised attack overwhelmed the paltry Mozambique security forces at the Total plant, triggering a terrifying attack that saw locals and expat workers, many of them South African, fighting for their lives. The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility, and the local militant group is loosely associated with them; but, as we reported last week, this is ultimately a local conflict that has been exploited by the publicity-seeking IS (also known as ISIS). 

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) took a while to act, considering the issue started escalating around mid-March, but it’s not alone: with communications to the area cut off during the conflict, the global and local response was dire. But the world seems to be waking up at last. 

Today, SA president Cyril Ramaphosa and others are attending a special SADC meeting to decide on a response to the conflict. Ramaphosa is the incoming SADC chair (as if governing SA wasn’t enough work. 😬) We’ll fill you in on what steps SADC decides to take, but with the US military training Mozambique forces and the EU also getting involved, all eyes are on the southeast African nation. 

Funnily enough, despite all the drama, the country’s currency continues to perform magnificently. The metical has appreciated 14% against the dollar since the beginning of February, making it the world’s best performing currency in the period, Bloomberg reports. 

Just a reminder: The worst the conflict can do to us here in SA is maybe threaten our gas supplies. It is highly unlikely to reach our borders. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore it: humanitarian violations are a daily occurrence now, and we must continue to push our leaders to try and find a safe, peaceful solution for the people of Mozambique. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 8 April 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.