Home South African Pandor defends deployment of soldiers to the DRC

Pandor defends deployment of soldiers to the DRC

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ANC national executive committee member Naledi Pandor, who is also the Minister of International Relations, has defended President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to send SANDF troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor. File picture

ANC NATIONAL executive committee member Naledi Pandor, who is also the Minister of International Relations, has affirmed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to send troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Pandor, during an ANC media briefing on the party’s election priorities on Friday, said the mission in the DRC was part of the ANC-led government’s attempt to lead peace talks on the continent.

This as the SANDF last week denied reports claiming that two South African soldiers deployed as part of the SADC Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (SAMIDRC) had surrendered to M23 rebels.

Earlier this year, the country deployed some of its soldiers to the DRC to stave off attacks by the M23 rebel group.

The military intervention was part of a response by SADC in a bid to bring stability to the region as a humanitarian crisis persists.

Criticism of the move has included reports that South African troops are living in deplorable conditions in the DRC.

Pandor said South Africa could not afford to be left behind on this mission.

“It would have been extremely wrong of President Ramaphosa, in a SADC meeting, to say to the other SADC members: ‘You can have a SADC mission to DRC but South Africa, the largest economy, largest military force, won’t be part of it’. It just couldn’t happen.”

She said that peace efforts by South Africa are not and should not be limited to the continent.

Meanwhile, the SANDF said no soldiers were being held as hostages by M23: “We want to state categorically that all SANDF members deployed in the DRC have been accounted for.

“The convoluted article published by the faceless Washington correspondent is dismissed with the contempt it deserves. This is not the first time such unfounded and baseless news articles have been written about the SANDF since its deployment in the DRC under SAMIDRC,” the SANDF said.

The SANDF said it viewed “such attempts to discredit the Defence Force in the most serious light by faceless people, and will not stand and allow its good name to be tarnished”.

“The SANDF, as the authority for the deployed members, shall at all times inform the South African public about the situation and safety of its members in the DRC,” the SANDF said.

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