SANDF must brief parliament: DA

By Drum Digital
26 August 2013

SANDF chief Lt-Gen Solly Shoke must explain to Parliament whether soldiers are properly equipped to help with peacekeeping efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the DA said on Monday.

Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier said he would write to the defence standing committee chairperson asking for Shoke to brief Parliament on the deployment of SA National Defence Force troops in the eastern DRC.

"The SANDF's mission is peace enforcement, rather than peacekeeping, and there is not only a high risk of casualties, but also of being drawn into a regional war with countries, such as Rwanda, who are allegedly supporting rebel groups, such as the M23, in the eastern DRC," Maynier said.

The mission was high-risk and South Africa could not afford a "repeat performance of the military disaster in the Central African Republic" on March 23 when 13 SANDF soldiers were killed.

"We must be sure that the SANDF [troops] are properly equipped to execute the task assigned to them by the United Nations," Maynier said.

Last week, President Jacob Zuma informed Parliament that 1345 soldiers had been deployed to the DRC.

The deployment was from June 13, 2013 to March 31, 2014. The expected cost of the deployment was R402,800,000 million.

The soldiers would be part of a "force intervention brigade", under the UN Monusco peacekeeping force.

On Friday, SANDF spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini said the intervention brigade comprised soldiers from South Africa, Tanzania, and Malawi, and was mandated to engage "armed groups".

"They will not wait and watch while civilians are being attacked by armed groups," Dlamini said at the time.

"They will intervene to engage, neutralise, and disarm."

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