Rebuild trust and confidence for peace to prevail, communities and state institutions in northern Mozambique urged

28 Jun, 2022

Prominent Mozambican cleric and civil society leader, Bishop Dinis Matsolo, says the media in the country must report responsibly on the conflict in the Cabo Delgado Province in the northern parts of the country. Bishop Matsolo also said there is a need to rebuild confidence and trust between police, correctional services and communities in Cabo Delgado in order for peace to rerun to the province.

The bishop was speaking during meetings with community leaders, police and correctional service officers which were held in Pemba on 24 June 2022 as part of efforts by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to finding lasting peace in Cabo Delgado, which has been under attack from terrorists. SADC has come up with a Peace Building Support Programme for Cabo Delgado to enhance the capacity building of the police and correctional services; and skills development programmes for the youth and women for their social development.

The programme is funded by the European Union (EU) under the Early Response Mechanism (ERM) of the African Union Commission in support of Mozambique. The meetings are aimed to rebuild trust and confidence between police, correctional services and communities in order to bring peace to the region.

Bishop Matsolo said while the media must report truthfully about the conflict in Cabo Delgado, reportage by journalists must convey messages of hope to communities affected by the violence. He said there was a need for a positive narrative of Africa, instead of concentrating on negative coverage of conflicts.

There is also a need for mutual trust between the media and state institutions such as the army, police and correctional services in order to build peace in the communities. Journalists often worked under hostile environments which resulted in them failing to access accurate and reliable information, and this was not good for peace building, Bishop Matsolo said. He said there is a need to rebuild confidence and trust between communities in northern Mozambique and the police and correctional services, which will result in peace and development.

To build peace, police and the communities must engage each other and speak truthfully, demonstrating respect, creating transparency and correcting mistakes made in the past. The police and communities must demonstrate loyalty to their country, provide results, and strive for own perfection. There was also a need for communities and police to clarify what is expected of them in society, and face reality of the situation in the region. They must practice responsibility, listen to each other, and fulfill promises, and both sides must do this for a solid relationship, which will result in lasting peace, said Bishop Matsolo.

Representatives of the various communities in Cabo Delgado who attended the meetings identified highlighted lack of trust between the communities and government institutions, extreme poverty and lack of good infrastructure and public amenities such as good schools and hospitals in the region as some of the issues causing conflict. They also cited inequalities and lack of opportunities, despite the wealth abound in the province. They said there was a need for a multifaceted approach to address the violence in Cabo Delgado province. The SADC peace building initiative seeks to enhance capacity of Mozambique police and correctional services, social protection mechanisms, law and order and humanitarian assistance in Cabo Delgado which was under attack from terrorists and violent extremists.

The SADC Peace Building Support to the Republic of Mozambique follows the Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government held on 23 June 2021, which approved a mandate to deploy SADC Standby Force Rapid Deployment Capability in the province. It is expected that the activities being implemented will provide humanitarian assistance and multidimensional peacekeeping which entails, among others, the involvement of civilians to undertake confidence building measures/programmes, aimed at addressing mistrust within the communities.

This will create cohesion to facilitate synergies that will foster peace and security and sustain social economic development in Cabo Delgado Province. At national level, the Government of the Republic of Mozambique developed the Cabo Delgado Recovery Plan (PRCD) in areas affected by terrorists. The Plan is organised into three pillars, namely Humanitarian Assistance; Infrastructure Recovery; and; Economic and Financial Activity. The Reconstruction Plan in Cabo Delgado requires an estimated budget of US$300 million, of which US$100 million has been secured.