International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor laments the time it took Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries to intervene in the Mozambique insurgency.
Speaking at a ceremony to mark 20 years of the African Union (AU), Pandor said the delay could have helped the insurgency to grow and spread, adding that she was pleased that eventually SADC forces were allowed in Mozambique.
Pandor says the progress the continent is making towards achieving full integration by 2063 will come to nothing if conflicts are not ended. She says the issue of conflict has become a permanent feature in the agenda of the AU.
This, she says, displaces important topics like strengthening development, and ending poverty, and has had to take a back seat to the focus on silencing the guns.
“The coups, coupled with the long running conflicts in Eastern DRC, in Sudan, in South Sudan, in the CAR, have undermined AU efforts to silence the guns. Closer to home, the ongoing insurgency in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique, is of great worry and it threatens security and the stability of the entire SADC region,” says Pandor.
Mozambique was the sole agenda item for SADC Extraordinary Summit in January:
On Cabo Delgado, Pandor says she was concerned when SADC was initially not allowed by Mozambique to intervene early.
She said, “Beyond the challenges, the continent has new prospects for success. Most notably, she added, was the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which resumed trading at the beginning of this year. She says the war between Russia and Ukraine has highlighted the importance of increasing trade among African countries.”
“There are countries on the continent, which are dependent on both Russia and Ukraine for wheat, and agricultural input, such as seed fertilisers and the supply has been disrupted. South Africa imports crude oil, diesel and related chemicals from Russia and Ukraine, and exports citrus. The flow of these products has also been negatively affected. This underscores the need for greater levels of intra-African trade so that as a continent we become more self-reliant,” says Pandor.
Pandor denied reports that South African security services had helped hundreds of ISIS fighters from Syria to return to the country by providing them with passports.
“There are no hundreds of ISIS fighters or even one that has been assisted by the security agency to return to South Africa, no hundreds of ISIS fighters who have been brought back to SA,” says Pandor.