Skip to main content

To: President Cyril Ramaphosa

Take Action on the Crisis in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique

As we stand in solidarity with the peoples of Cabo Delgado, we call on the South African Presidency to:

1. Investigate whether the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) has authorised any South African private security contractors to operate in Mozambique in terms of the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance (FMA) Act. If contractors have not been authorised, a criminal investigation should be opened by competent authorities, and those found guilty must be prosecuted.

2. Prohibit arms trading in countries in conflict where the weapons are being or may be used to violate human rights, such as in Mozambique, by withdrawing any export permits and prosecuting unlawful arms traders.

3. Revise or withdraw all necessary legislation to ensure that South African mercenaries or private security companies will no longer be permitted to operate in other countries.

4. Withdraw all investments made by state-owned financiers such the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa (ECIC) and the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) from the gas industry in Mozambique to protect human rights and reduce carbon emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

5. Enforce corporate adherence to the provisions of the South African Constitution, and human rights instruments, such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the UNFCCC and the Convention on Biological Diversity, which the South African state has ratified.

6. Acknowledge the climate debt owed to Mozambique by the SA state and polluting national corporations, whose activities have fueled the climate crisis, and establish specific mechanisms to quantify and settle this debt.

7. Demand that the Mozambican government release detained journalists and stop all harassment of journalists and all those addressing human rights abuses in Cabo Delgado.

8. Launch an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by DAG, Paramount and other actors in violation of the SA Constitution and domestic and international law.

Why is this important?

Since 2017, the armed conflict in northern Mozambique, which includes the gas-rich Cabo Delgado province, has forcibly displaced over 700,000 people, and left tens of thousands dead or injured (1).

Amnesty International’s report, ‘What I Saw Is Death: War Crimes in Mozambique’s Forgotten Cape’ (2), released in March 2021, documents “violations of international humanitarian law including war crimes by all sides of the conflict", including the South African private military Dyck Advisory Group (DAG).

It is reported that another South African private military contractor, the Paramount Group, is supplying Marauder armored personnel, as well as refurbished Mi-17 and Mi-24 helicopters and pilot training to Mozambique (3).
The South African government and the presidency have avoided confronting the activities of these private military contractors which have exported arms into a high conflict zone and been involved in gross human rights violations. We are, thus, of the view that the SA government is directly implicated in these abuses.

Much of the reporting on northern Mozambique focuses on the armed conflict between militants of the group calling itself ‘Al Shabaab’ and the government, without placing the conflict in the context of the gas wealth in the region. These resources, which collectively read have a current estimated price tag of $65 billion (4), are being exploited by foreign multinational companies, like Total, ExxonMobil, Eni and the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation, and have resulted in the forced relocation and loss of livelihoods of over 550 families. Employment opportunities for these communities have been limited, short-term and menial (5).

Journalists investigating and writing on gas extraction and violence have been illegally detained, disappeared and tortured. And civil society organisations working on the ground for years have confronted similar repressions. Women in Cabo Delgado experience sexualised violence and other crimes perpetrated by all parties to the conflict.

The misleading narrative about a ‘jihadist uprising’ conveniently takes the attention away from the enormous costs of gas extraction to people, local environments, and the climate crisis, linked to carbon emissions from dirty energy. Related to this, the people of Mozambique have endured three destructive climate induced cyclones in 2019 and 2021 (6).

South Africa is ranked 12th on the world’s list of top carbon emitters (7) and is, by far, the largest carbon emitting country on the African continent. South Africa’s energy parastatal, Eskom, which generates more than 90% of its electricity from coal, is responsible for 42% of South Africa's greenhouse gas emissions (8). Africa accounts for only 3% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions from energy and industrial sources, with South Africa contributing half of these emissions in 2018 (9).

Other South African actors are directly involved in Cabo Delgado and its conflicts. State financiers - the Industrial Development corporation (IDC), the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa (ECIC) and the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) - have in total lent over $1 billion to the Mozambique Liquid Natural Gas project (10). Standard Bank (11) has sunk $485 million into the project, and other players include ABSA and Rand Merchant Bank.

Private South African companies, like DAG and Paramount, which are contracted by the Mozambican government to provide military assistance are required to respect and act in accordance with the South African Constitution and the Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance (FMA) Act. This Act requires that companies, like DAG and Paramount, may only undertake foreign military assistance to governments or other actors outside of SA with authorization from the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (“NCACC”) or in terms of an agreement with the NCACC. An authorisation or approval may not be granted if this would result in the infringement of human rights and fundamental freedoms, like the right to life, dignity, and security of person, which are being violated within Mozambique by DAG. According to the Act, any person who does not seek approval or authorisation may be guilty of an offence and could be liable to a fine and/or imprisonment, and the property related to the offence forfeited to the South African state.

(1) 'Nearly 30,000 people displaced by March attacks in northern Mozambique', UNHCR, April 2021
(2) "What I saw is Death: War Crimes in Mozambique's Forgotten Cape', Amnesty International, March 2021
(3) 'Gazelles delivered to Mozambican Air Force', defenceWeb, March 2021
(4) 'Proximity alone insufficient to assure SA firms any share of Moz gas action', Engineering News, November 2020
(5) Explosive Mix, New Internationalist, December 2020
(6) '2 years since Cyclone Idai and Mozambique has already faced an additional 3 cyclones', Reliefweb, March 2021
(7) 'South Africa the 12th biggest source of greenhouse gases? Yes, but that’s not the only measure that matters', Africa Check, April 2021
(8) 'SA emissions improving but Eskom, Sasol are worrisome outliers', Miningmx, July 2020
(9) 'What happens to global emissions if Africa triples down on natural gas for power?', Energy for Growth Hub, August 2020
(10) 'Our public finance institutions are fuelling climate change', Africa, Times Live, March 2021
(11) 'Mozambique's gas can be a 'game changer' in transforming its economy' , Fin 24, April 2021

How it will be delivered

Email, media, and picket

Cabo Delgado Province, Mozambique

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL


2021-08-10 12:40:56 +0200

500 signatures reached

2021-05-18 19:35:56 +0200

100 signatures reached

2021-05-18 07:21:28 +0200

50 signatures reached

2021-05-17 20:18:24 +0200

25 signatures reached

2021-05-17 17:28:38 +0200

10 signatures reached