Zimbabwe will be widely commended for its major contribution to the war against terrorism in the world
By Mark Anderson
With the deterioration of security in one of SADC’s member states Mozambique, Zimbabwe has come to the rescue of an old ally in its war of liberation against the Rhodesian forces of Ian Smith.
Increased insecurity in this southern African region country has necessitated Zimbabwe’s intervention in Cabo Delgado province although not publicly announced back home, perhaps a quick surprise security response to a SADC member state in a crisis which has seen a hive of terrorist activity.
The IS terrorists engaged themselves in brazen terrorism coupled with public displays, including on the social media networks, of murdered victims of Mozambique’s populations. They openly involved themselves in regular clashes. The insurgents had become a menace against armed vigilante groups and Mozambican security forces.
The district of Mocimboa da Praia suffered the worst attacks by these groups with links to Islamist extremism.
Mozambique was slowly turning into a real war zone as the terrorists ruthlessly expanded territory, heightening fears of the strong re-emergence of global terrorist bases in Cabo Delgado that would spread attacks throughout the world.
Zimbabwe’s quick response to deal a deadly blow to the Islamist extremists establishing a strong base in Cabo Delgado was only heard a few weeks ago after heavy decisive skirmishes which saw Zimbabwe’s soldiers return home in body bags. The president hasn’t publicly announced or won citizenry acceptance to send its soldiers to war raising questions about President Mnangagwa’s decision making processes.
However, the terrorist leaders are now taking deep breath on their miscalculated war campaign on Mozambique President…Zimbabwe would not watch a close allay under terrorist attacks. Mozambique was home to Zimbabwe’s freedom fighters.
Internationally, Zimbabwe will be widely commended for its major contribution to the war against terrorism in the world while at the same time it risks retaliatory terrorist attacks back home.
The Islamic terrorists have been finding it difficult to set up new bases since the assassination of their leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
Pockets of Islamic terrorists and resistance still exist in the Middle East and many parts of Africa, but
Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province Islamist terrorists base was quickly becoming a major threat to the SADC region as a whole, requiring swift responses as offered by Zimbabwe.
Its involvement in dismantling terrorist bases in neighbouring Mozambique have raised fears of possible terrorist attacks back home in the-not-too distant future if the terrorists find security lapses.
Mnangagwa’s decision to deploy Zimbabwe forces into Mozambique was inevitable and obvious, these are the terrorists who invited MDC Alliance leader Chamisa to come out and join forces with them to remove the ZANU-PF government.
What did they expect? Now the terrorists have to find another home or country for their bases.
Mozambique’s army has faced heavy criticism in the SADC region and internationally for failing to eradicate terrorist groups with links to Islamist extremism to the extent that they managed to set up huge bases and carried out rampant attacks in the far flanges of Cabo Delgado from as early as 2018.
This was just about the same time Zimbabwe was heavily involved in setting up the new dispensation rule for President Mnangagwa who was also being challenged for an alleged rigged election by MDC Alliance’s president Nelson Chamisa at the ConCourt.
The removal of Mugabe from power in November 2017, Zimbabwe’s mini-version of the Arab world spring, raised false hopes, had a lot of bearing and encouragement in the quick establishment of the Cabo Delgado province terrorist bases, victory was within easy reach but no SADC can always rely on Zimbabwe’s experiences in the Congo(DRC), Somalia, and even in Mozambique itself against Matsanga.
Mnangagwa would have been reminded that one of the terrorist leaders had the guts to set up a trap for MDC Alliance leader Chamisa to come and join the terrorist group and fight Mnangagwa’s new dispensation, but democracy in Zimbabwe is limited to peaceful demonstrations and doesn’t take the terrorism route, Chamisa wouldn’t entertain such invitations.
An invitation from IS terrorists to Chamisa alerted Zimbabwe’s president of his number one enemy in the SADC region and hence the swift response to wipe out the terrorist bases in Cabo Delgado province.
The terrorist incursions have been concentrated in the districts of Palma, Mocimboa da Praia, Macomia, Nangade, Quissanga, Muidumbe, Meluco, Ibo and Mueda, including the islands off the coast. Militants have used explosives, machetes and firearms to conduct lethal attacks, including attacks on vehicles.
The Islamic State, which hasn’t denied interests in the removal of both governments of Zimbabwe and Mozambique, claimed responsibility for numerous attacks on Mozambique populations in the Cabo Delgado province.
●Up to 2,000 people have been killed and about 430,000 have been left homeless in the conflict in the mainly-Muslim province.
The militants are linked to the Islamic State (IS) group, giving it a foothold in southern Africa.
The group has exploited poverty and unemployment to recruit youth in their fight to establish Islamic rule in the area.
Many locals complain that they have benefited little from the province’s ruby and gas industries.
The BBC’s Jose Tembe reports from the capital, Maputo, that the latest attack was probably the worst carried out by the militants.
Many people are shocked, and they are calling for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, he adds.
The gunmen chanted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”, in English), fired shots, and set homes alight when they raided Nanjaba village on Friday night, the state-owned Mozambique News Agency quoted survivors as saying.
Two people were beheaded in the village and several women abducted, the news agency added.
A separate group of militants carried out another brutal attack on Muatide village, where they beheaded more than 50 people, the news agency reported.
Villagers who tried to flee were caught, and taken to the local football pitch where they were beheaded and chopped to pieces in an atrocity carried out from Friday night to Sunday, privately-run Pinnancle News reported.
● Mark Anderson
is a Zimbabwe-British freelance journalist working for a non-governmental agency based in Mozambique