Zuma must establish inquiry: UDM

By Drum Digital
04 April 2013

President Jacob Zuma should establish a commission of inquiry to determine why South African troops were sent to the Central African Republic (CAR), the United Democratic Movement said on Thursday.

"President Zuma must come home and institute an independent commission of inquiry to get to the bottom of this debacle," UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said in a statement.

"Serious allegations have been made that South African National Defence Force (SANDF) troops were sent to the CAR to protect his party's interests and provide security for [removed CAR president Francois] Mr Bozizé."

Thirteen South African soldiers were killed and 27 wounded on March 23 when they were attacked by Seleka rebel fighters near the CAR's capital Bangui.

Holomisa said there had been many contradicting statements from government on the reason for deploying troops in the CAR, and the inquiry would also help verify whether any training conducted by South African troops took place in the CAR in the past two years.

"South Africans want to know which national assets our troops were risked to protect," he said.

"There is also the possibility that government may be sued by the families of those soldiers who lost their lives. It can't be business as usual if we are to avoid a similar catastrophe."

The UDM also congratulated the Economic Community of Central African States on its decision to have the South African troops withdrawn from the CAR.

Earlier, the Democratic Alliance welcomed the withdrawal of South African troops from the CAR.

"This is especially welcome news for the family and friends of the troops stationed in the CAR, who over the last week have been in extraordinary danger, and who have lost 13 of their number in battle," DA leader Helen Zille said.

"The presidency should urgently brief the country on the full details of this withdrawal."

President Jacob Zuma made the decision at the Eccas summit in N'Djamena, Chad, on Wednesday, French news agency AFP reported.

"President Zuma has decided to withdraw the South African forces which are deployed in Bangui," Chadian President Idriss Deby said, adding that Zuma was ready to provide troops in future if necessary.

Zille said while the withdrawal was welcome, the DA still wanted Zuma to explain why South African soldiers were deployed to the CAR.

-by Sapa

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