Jean-Jacques Cornish

South Africa sends troops to evacuate nationals trapped in Mozambique

headline: South Africa sends troops to evacuate nationals in Mozambique

President Cyril Ramaphosa is in an urgent meeting with his Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapsia-Nqakula today following his announcement that he’s sent troops to Mozambique to evacuate South Africans trapped there by ISIS-affiliated jihadis fighting government forces.

At least on South African died in the Islamist attack on the town of Palma in the north of Mozambique earlier this week.

The palm-fringed fishing town was regarded as a safe zone in the violence plagued Cabo Delgado Province  which has one of the largest liquified natural gas projects on the planet.

subhead Total staff withdrawn

The French energy company Total, which has a primary involvement in the development, has withdrawn its staff from Palma.

Ramaphosa spoke about detaching the troops while attending a wreath-laying ceremony for the late Winnie Madikizela Mandela.

He did not specify how many South African soldiers had been sent into Mozambique, nor did he say how many South Africans were still in Cabo Delgado.

The terror campaign which began in 2017 with machete-wielding fighters claiming they had been marginalized in the search for gas riches, has become a sophisticated, foreign-financed operation that has seen more than 1500 local villagers killed and more than half a million displaced.

Seven people, including the South African Adrian New were killed in the latest jihadi attack.

subhead Trapped in hotel

At least 180 people who sought shelter in the Amarula Hotel in Palma are believed to be trapped there.

Forty three South Africans who were missing after the attack have been accounted for.

Hundreds have been taken by boat from Palma to the provincial capital of Pemba .

It is not possible to ascertain the condition of those trapped because the terrorists have cut communication lines to Palma. The last telephone contact there was on Wednesday.

The United States has sent a detachment of special forces to Mozambique to provide anti-insurgency training to government forces.

Portugal has made a similar offer to its former colony as has the European Union.

subhead Multilateral military assistance

Mozambique which has shown itself to be incapable of containing the insurrection initially asked neighboring ,South Africa for military assistance. Ramaphosa declined saying the country’s national defence force it was not able to acting unilaterally in conflict of this magnitude.

His hand has been forced by his nationals, mostly involved in the gas project, becoming imperiled.

There is no indication how long the South African troops will remain in Mozambique

Both the African Union and the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) have discussed providing multilateral military assistance to Mozambique. However, they do not have the financial means to do this without help from the United Nations or Western powers.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.