Trying to understand what’s happening in Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado, I’m taking the sage advice of two of the best analysts on South Africa’s eastern neighbor.
Jasmine Opperman and Joseph Hanlon are adamant that on this matter one should not believe everything one reads.
Since what one reads comes from areas that have been rendered hors de contact by jihadis destroying the mobile phone masts, then incredulity makes good sense.
What we can do now is work out where we are and how we got here.
We know that at least 2 500 people have died and more than 7 000 have been displaced in Cabo Delgado since the start of 2020.
It is self evident that corruption in Mozambique has hamstrung government’s capacity to do anything to control it, let alone stop it.
I tend to believe the Catholic Church on Mozambique.
The Church of Rome has an impressive record on the former Portuguese colony..
St Edigio, the Vatican’s ministry of foreign affairs, mediated an end to Mozambique’s 15-year civil war in which both sides fought themselves to exhaustion and by its end in 1992 had dragged the country to very bottom of the list of world’s poorest countries.
So the Catholic Bishops’ conference can draw on past form when it in explains that the insurrection in Cabo Delgado is caused by people seizing control of the country and its resources and exploiting these at the cost of its development.
The bishops, in their statement this week call for the creation of jobs, particularly for the youth, as a way of emerging from the morass of violence being fed by the desperation and marginalization of the province’s people.
Easier said than done? That is ever the case in situations where the government is forced to rely on the assistance of neighbors and other friends further afield.
President Felipe Nyusi has been too proud to accept this help.
He feels it betrays the weakness and venality in his government.
He would do well to accept the United States, Portugal and the European Union training his military to counter the jihadis.
While he does this, he should not delay in taking the socio economic steps suggested by the bishops.