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Deployment of SANDF personnel in DRC extended

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Personnel will form part of a multi-country peacekeeping mission

THE DEPLOYMENT of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will be extended for another year as part of the United Nations (UN) Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (Monusco).

This was in a letter sent by President Cyril Ramaphosa on March 22 and discussed by the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) last week. In the letter the president informed Parliament that South Africa will keep 1 165 SANDF personnel in the DRC from April 1 until March 31, 2021.

Monusco was established in July 2010 with the mandate to protect civilians, humanitarian personnel and human rights defenders against the threat of violence by armed rebel groups, and to support the government of the DRC in stabilisation and peace consolidation efforts.

According to defence news portal DefenceWeb, the personnel will form part of the multi-country peacekeeping mission Monusco and its Force Intervention Brigade (FIB). The FIB is staffed by three southern African – Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania – and is currently the only UN peacekeeping component with an offensive mandate in executing its civilian protection tasking.

JSCD chairperson Mamagase Elleck Nchabeleng said that the DRC deployment was supported by the committee. 

The ANC’s Thabo Nelson Mmutle welcomed the extension but mentioned that there had been issues relating to the withdrawal of Rooivalk attack helicopters from the DRC.

The DA’s defence spokesperson Kobus Marais said he supported the DRC deployment and believed that the regional deployment of South Africa’s defence forces was important. The troops in the DRC had represented South Africa extremely well, he told the JSCD.

The DRC is one of the central African countries affected by conflict and violence which has claimed many lives and displaced dozens of civilians.

Last month, a SANDF major stationed in the country, Major Clint Van Jaarsveld, said the DRC was a volatile place that can change quickly and the threat of armed rebel groups attacking civilians was very real. He said civilians felt the UN was not doing enough to protect them due to separatists’ continued efforts to discredit the UN and its activities.

– African News Agency (ANA)