One MoU provides for cooperation on peace and security, while the other covers defense cooperation, according to AFP
. They were signed by defense ministers Stergomena Tax of Tanzania and Cristovao Chume of Mozambique.
The MoU’s are aimed at addressing ongoing security problems along their mutual border, most especially by Islamist insurgents in Mozambique’s northernmost Cabo Delgado province. The group known locally as Al-Shabab (“The Youth”), of no relation to the Somali group of the same name, has terrorized the province since 2017, although it was only in 2020 that it attracted attention outside of Mozambique, when it pledged allegiance, at least formally, to Daesh.*
At its height, Al-Shabab controlled much of the province, including the port city of Mocimboa da Praia, and raided the major city of Palma in April 2021. However, the group has also launched cross-border raids, attacking Tanzania’s port of Mtwara
, a major oil and gas export hub just north of Cabo Delgado.
Al-Shabab has since been routed from Cabo Delgado, but retreated to the interior of the continent, where it has regrouped
. The war has killed roughly 3,000 people and displaced more than 800,000. It has also created a food crisis in the impoverished region, which has created opportunities for corruption, including authorities coercing needy women into sex
in exchange for food aid.
The situation has caused cross-border trade to steadily dwindle, declining from 53 billion Tanzanian shillings ($22.84 million) in 2020 to 46 billion ($19.82 million) in 2021, according to The East African
However, according to a June report by Turkey’s Anadolu Agency
, “ informal business through porous border routes goes on unabated in some areas thanks to strong networks and relationships that persist without the knowledge of the authorities.”
“We encourage people to engage in lawful business. They should not use informal border crossings to bring their commodities,” Mariam Chaurembo, the commissioner of Tanzania’s Nanyumbu district, told Anadolu. “Nobody is allowed to transact illegal business. Our law is very clear on that.”
That is why Suhulu and Nyusi also penned deals on Thursday to enhance trade and investment, energy, tourism, and education, including beginning the teaching of Swahili in Mozambican schools. The language is spoken across East Africa and is an official language in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, while being recognized as a minority language in Mozambique, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The deals follow discussions about enhancing cooperation at the 15th Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation (JPCC) between Tanzania and Mozambique last month.
*Al-Shabab, Daesh (IS/ISIL/ISIS) - terrorist groups banned in Russia and many other countries.