A poor province in Northern Mozambique is home to insurgency that threatens to suck the whole of SADC into a terrorist war.
All signs are that SADC will be sending a regional force to Mozambique.
This comes after a tragic massacre that happened two weeks ago.
Multitudes of people were killed in the most barbaric way.
This cannot be allowed in the 21st century.
SADC has to do something.
But it cannot be right to just send in troops to quell the uprising.
Insurgents are likely to respond with recruitment of foreign fighters from northern Africa. The horn of Africa and also in the middle east.
In other words Mozambique might soon become a theater of a globalized jihadi war.
The question to ask is what will happen once the SADC troops leave?
The same conditions that led to an insurgency in the first instance will be there and the same insurgency will start all over again.
SADC has to ask the Mozambican government some difficult questions.
Why is this province so poor to start with?
Why do so many people in this one province feel hopeless about the future?
Past evidence of fighting Islamist jihadist from elsewhere shows that it is not easy to defeat them through the bullet alone.
It is important to also aim to grow development. Isolating communities where these fighters are found is one of the more often committed mistakes by those fighting terrorism.
This makes it easy for terrorists to recruit but also to label those fighting them the occupiers.
Rather than jumping to commit to military intervention as SADC, the regional countries should first establish just what are the causes of the extremism in Mozambique which at least at face value atrocious as it might be seems more like an aberration than the norm.
The people in Mozambique are not extremist by nature.
They have lived side by side for many years.
It is that vital to know exactly what triggered events that started in 2017.
Also important is to verify intelligence on who is behind the insurgency.
Are the financiers local or international?
What do they hope to achieve?
Military intervention is always tempting. But it is costly – in both human life and in resources.
Over time it gets not only costly but also unsustainable, even for rich countries like the United States.
SADC economies have been routed by Covid-19.
Botswana’s economy is probably at weakest since independence.
SADC leadership should not get excitable and choose to go a route that they cannot finish.
It is twenty years since America and its allies invaded Afghanistan to fight a terrorism war.
The war has sucked so many countries that it does not look likely that victory could be achieved.
In fact America is trying to negotiate its way out in the process talking to groups that it was never imagined it could talk to when it first attacked.
SADC should first consider coming with all sorts of interventions.
Only a stick and carrot can achieve results.
The affected area is said to be terribly poor.
It is a well-known fact that poverty is a breeding ground of terrorism.
Recruitment by terrorists becomes very easy because people have no hope and cannot see an end to their misery in their lives.
Mozambique should be helped with resources to put them into the northern parts of that country.
That can happen simultaneously with a peace keeping force on the ground.
Or else we risk turning Mozambique and the sub-region into another Somalia.