Jean-Jacques Cornish

Take the advice of the Mozambique Catholic Bishops

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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.

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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.