Uncle Harvest writes on SADC DECISION TO INTERVENE IN THE CONFLICT IN MOZAMBIQUE

Malawi cannot afford, yet again, to stand aloof when others are working to bring about peace in Mozambique. History will judge Malawi harshly if that happened.

There have been varied reactions to the SADC Summit's recent decision to deploy an Intervention Force in the Cabo Delgado region in Northern Mozambique.

Some people are questioning the appropriateness and timing of that decision.

Yet others, express a strong feeling that Malawi must not take part in this effort by SADC.

The conflict in Mozambique should be solved by Mozambicans themselves.

The fear is that Malawi's involvement would draw the wrath of the Islamist militants towards Malawi considering Malawi's proximity to the conflict zone.

Others feel that the proximity of Malawi to the conflict zone is the very reason that Malawi must be involved.

An early resolution to the conflict is of prime interest to Malawi before the conflict can affect Nacala and Beira, the two major ports for Malawi's imports and exports.

This in addition to the likelihood of displaced persons flowing into the country as it was during the liberation struggle.

Two major things need to be borne in mind

First, the SADC Summit's decision is based on a 2004 SADC Summit decision in Mauritius to establish a SADC Standby Force.

This led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in August 2007 in Lusaka Zambia. Malawi appended its signature to this MOU.

Since then Malawi has taken part in several training programmes at the Regional Peace Training Centre in Zimbabwe and taken part in peacekeeping exercises.

The SADC Brigade has three components: military, police and civilian, that is deployment ready.

It is important to note that this decision by SADC Summit occurs within the spirit of the African Union's Peace Architecture.

It is for this reason that Malawi will deploy its Forces as part of the SADC Standby Force to fulfil its commitment to Regional peace and security by the Memorandum of Understanding.

The wisdom of SADC leaders was to come up with this arrangement at a time when there was no conflict for SADC to immediately deploy into.

This has the advantage that every aspect of the agreement was not based on emotions.

Malawi is therefore under obligation to deploy together with other countries as agreed.

Secondly, the deployment of Forces by Malawi is an opportunity for Malawi to correct a historical wrong.

When all the independent countries in the SADC Region came together in what was called the Frontline States, a grouping of countries that worked and fought together in the liberation struggle for Southern Africa, Malawi was not part of the grouping.

Malawi cannot afford, yet again, to stand aloof when others are working to bring about peace in Mozambique.

History will judge Malawi harshly if that happened.

It is an admissable fact that such involvement has a cost to it. It is a cost that Malawi has to be willing to pay. As SADC, we are each other's brothers, keepers.

It would be naive for Malawi to view the conflict in Mozambique as their problem because it is our problem as well.

The repercussions of this conflict have a direct impact on Malawi's social-economic development, peace and security. Malawi's involvement would be a proactive stance.

Our memories should not be too short, in the 1980s Malawi had to deploy its soldiers to guard the Nacala railway line during a civil war in Mozambique.

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