Zuma on CAR: Decision not SA's

2013-04-02 22:40

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday that South Africa will take its cue from the Central African region and the African Union on what to do next in Central African Republic (CAR).

Zuma, under fire at home over what role the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has been playing in CAR, after 13 soldiers were killed and 27 wounded during clashes with rebels there, will on Wednesday attend a summit of Central African leaders which will consider responses to the rebel takeover in CAR.

"We are continuing to consult the Central African region and the African Union on this matter... We will be guided by the continent as to what to do next," Zuma said earlier while speaking at  the memorial service of the SA Paratroopers killed in the CAR capital Bangui.

He heads to Chad to join the extraordinary meeting of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) after being invited by Chadian President Idriss Deby, chair of the 10-nation ECCAS.

ECCAS groups Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe and Chad.

Amid the controversy surrounding the South African military presence in CAR, Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj told Reuters there was nothing unusual about the South African role in Central African Republic or Zuma's participation in the summit.

"We want to participate and benefit from the knowledge of the colleagues in the region, and share our ideas," he said.

Maharaj said South Africa's involvement in CAR stemmed from calls by the African Union in the mid-2000s for African states to participate actively in moves to maintain stability and contribute to capacity-building in the central African state, which has a history of coups and revolts.

He said the 2007 bilateral defence accord, whose details have not been made public, derived directly from this.

Zuma would be accompanied at the summit by his ministers for foreign affairs, state security and defence.

CAR's delegation will be led by Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye.

The African Union has suspended its membership and imposed sanctions on Seleka leaders, including CAR’s new leader, Michel Djotodia.


Earlier on Tuesday, Zuma defended the CAR deployment, saying the 13 soldiers killed by rebels there had died fighting for the government's foreign policy, not his party's business interests.

The South African force had been involved in a nine-hour firefight with thousands of rebels who poured into Central African Republic's (CAR) capital Bangui last month and seized control of the country, which has rich deposits of gold, diamonds and uranium.
Zuma has faced enormous pressure over the 13 South African deaths - the worst military setback since the end of apartheid in 1994.

The Democratic Alliance is calling for a parliamentary investigation and media reports are speculating that the troops were defending investments made by the African National Congress.

The deaths have touched a nerve with a public not used to seeing flag-draped coffins being carried off planes, with many asking why Zuma sent troops to a country 3 500 km away and outside South Africa's normal sphere of influence.

Zuma said the 200 troops sent in December were "heroes" sent to uphold South Africa's foreign policy and were protecting a deployment of military trainers sent in 2007 under a military cooperation agreement.

"Let me emphasise that we reject any insinuation that these soldiers were sent to the CAR for any reason other than in pursuit of the national interest and the interests of the African continent," he said at a memorial for the soldiers.

"We will not be side-tracked by those who are on a perpetual campaign against this democratic government," said Zuma.

The Mail & Guardian last week said the ANC's investment arm, Chancellor House, was involved in a company called Inala Centrafrique set up in 2006 to buy diamonds from Central African Republic's small-scale artisanal miners.

"The plan had two other elements, which, if implemented, would give Inala and its ANC-linked shareholders complete dominance of CAR's diamond market," the paper said.

The ANC dismissed the report as "blatant lies".

"The ANC as an organisation does not have business interests in CAR," it said in a statement.

Ran out of ammo

SANDF soldiers said they were traumatised after learning that many of the rebels in the battle in Bangui were child soldiers, the Sunday Times and City Press reported at the weekend.

"The rebels stormed our soldiers in groups, not at all like trained soldiers, and many of them were only children," City Press quoted one soldier as saying.

Troops ran out of ammunition for rifles and had to fire rocket-propelled grenades to repel the attacks, City Press said.

Defence officials have not commented on specifics of the reports but said troops were adequately supplied.

Meanwhile, the SA National Defence Union said that South Africa's troops were being withdrawn from CAR.

"What we know now is that only 18 soldiers still remain in CAR; at least 200 of them have been withdrawn and dropped off [at] the border," spokesperson Pikkie Greeff said.

The CAR airport in Bangui was under the control of the French army, which was safeguarding South Africa's equipment until it could be transported back to the country.

Military spokesperson Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said he could not comment on reports that the soldiers had been moved to either Congo or Uganda, according to AP.

"I will only confirm that we still have troops and equipment in the Central African Republic," he said.

He refused to say how many soldiers remained.

  • chris.maakal - 2013-04-02 22:53

    what discussions were held with other African countries regarding C.A.R in the 6 months prior to the incident? If none, why suddenly now? Did the attack happen in the base (as Zuma claims) or outside of the base as the minister claims? Can we hear directly from the soldiers about the incident (number of attackers, why they ran out of ammo, why they were all on foot with no vehicles and only bushes for cover) Can we hear from the soldiers whey they claim (via their union) that they have never trained anybody in the C.A.R; and understand why Zuma claims the soldiers were deployed for training legitimate soldiers in the C.A.R?

      Mfana Elijah Mathibela - 2013-04-02 23:04

      Good questions. Pity that those who should provide answers are possibly not even aware of this comment section

      Jenifer Johnstone - 2013-04-02 23:08

      i knew that zuma sent the troops there to protect the ANC's diamond interests .i hope the deceased families make them support them for life the greedy varks

      Frankly Speaking - 2013-04-03 07:33

      Chris. Maakal, look at the thumbs up vote 40 against zero, then look at what Chris Wrote. He is asking questions that have long been answered which his thumbs up voters refuse to accept. You should be embarrassed for what you wrote. You should have said, guyz I do not know what is happening please enlighten me. Your thumbs up voters did not voters sided with your comment simple because it was anti government not that it was correct

  • nu_un_clear - 2013-04-02 22:54

    I wonder if he ever gets tired of doing damage control.

  • Mfaniseni Thusi - 2013-04-02 22:58

    Why were the opposition parties quiet all these years? These parties knew all along about the soldiers in CAR and never challenged this why now? To play angels. Ayikhona sometimes POLITICIANS think we have no brains.

      chris.maakal - 2013-04-02 23:15

      Good question Mfaniseni. I think a reason is that for years none of our soldiers were killed or even injured and it just did not attract attention. The opposition parties were however quite busy with issues inside South Africa, it is not is if they sat around doing nothing.

      Olga Mabaso - 2013-04-03 00:16

      @MT: CAR got new government ,don't u know?

      Terence Wessels - 2013-04-03 06:12

      Just another sheep protecting his criminal president. Disgusting man.

      saintbruce.bruce - 2013-04-03 07:25

      By reading the background you would understand that only 28 training and support personnel were deployed to CAR. This is hardly an issue as some embassies have more staff on foreign soil. However, sending in more than 200 Parabats [ combat trained troops] to an area where the mandate was clearly running out speaks of another agenda - an agenda that we need to get to the truth about and to stop allowing our President and Commander in Chief to keep lying to us about. The AU was never involved in my opinion and even if it was, the signs were so clear that the situation had changed so our troops were put in harms way for no reason that we can democratically support. That is why Zuma must resign. He is the boss and he fouled up badly.

  • Jannie Visagie - 2013-04-02 23:11

    zuma every single thing you do is a mess. You are a disgrace..

  • Mohaola Keke - 2013-04-02 23:16

    DA will regret very late by challenging decision taken by joint countries sometimes they act more like foreigners or terrorist in thise country can someone advice them not to lose focus plz Zille we want to know how can you deliver a better life for all to SA citizens

      Avremel Niselow - 2013-04-02 23:42

      If you want a dictatorship, look north.

      Jannie Le Roux - 2013-04-03 06:14

      Ai Tlotie. You again with your right-wing, anti-white communist comments. Leave the comments to the adults please, and focus on your homework. Gr2 is a tough year in your education. Now eat your pap, go to school and stop irritating the adults.

  • Erna Westdyk - 2013-04-02 23:25

    This is getting more bizarre by the day - wonder what will be said tomorrow?

      Erna Westdyk - 2013-04-03 06:22

      Anthony - no conspiracy story. Just trying to make sense of the stories fed by your government!

      Anthony Michael - 2013-04-03 07:16

      Erna, WOW!! NO , conspiracy ?? every other sentence, on this sites drips of it. If you want to understand what has been happening in the CAR, look at two issues: 1) The interests shown in the CAR, by the governments of John Voster and P.W.Botha, 2) The role the French play , in their former French colonies !!

  • Tiaan Truter - 2013-04-02 23:25

    Like we all know by now,Zuma doesnt know whats cutting...He used the soldiers to benefit him.I dont even think the Army chief or commander and Zuma are on the same page.

      Clive Mthembu - 2013-04-02 23:41

      Thats right you dont all.u are just manipulated by individuals who find fault in anything Zuma does or say, wish u wer around during the apartheid regime maybe u wud have had more sense to speak then

      Abdul-Ba'ith Bashir Sayegh - 2013-04-03 00:18

      IF (in caps) you were around during apartheid and you are now too blind to see what this current administration is doing to the country that you fought for, than you must be a beneficiary of all the wrong doings, or you are just another imbecile who needs a serious sight slap.

      Jenifer Johnstone - 2013-04-03 01:40

      clive i have lived in the apartheid era.i used non-white facilities ,but i can tell u things were better then no blatant lies,corruption ,fraud

  • Jannie Visagie - 2013-04-02 23:31

    Mogale a very simple example. Just lok at the centre of Cape Town compare it with the other cities in SA then you can see.

  • Stephen Barnard - 2013-04-02 23:32

    Hello... Did the writer of this article not watch the speach by zuma? He said they were there in the sake of South Africa and African interests... Why change zumas true words?? It was not because of this the way media manipulates the truth??

  • Karl Klopjag - 2013-04-03 00:01

    SA is a FREE and SOVEREIGN country and as such is 100% permitted to make decisions without being forced or dictated to by any other country or countries.

      Harold Jansen - 2013-04-03 05:40

      Absolutely Correct!

      Erna Westdyk - 2013-04-03 06:18

      Not in Africa we aren't. We're all huge mates and interfere in each other's business to the tune that lives are lost!

  • Miguel Capelo - 2013-04-03 00:10

    The WORLD knows.

  • Raymond Navaragp Tshepo - 2013-04-03 00:10

    i hear dat jz is doin dis 2 benefit his party n sumhw dey hv a bssns wit car n dis inala company its shareholders r anc members im nt so conviced its true bt dey say were ders smoke ders fire dats all i cn say mr jz i hope u covered ur troops rite coz if nt i wudnt wnt 2 b u in de nxt days or weeks cumin..?

  • Corrie Botha - 2013-04-03 00:37

    And there J Z proved that he is a follower not a leader!!!!! Just resign you are an idiot

  • Don Mug - 2013-04-03 00:50

    Hiding behind a finger is being irrational JZ.

  • Don Mug - 2013-04-03 00:54

    Hiding behind a finger is being irrational JZ.

  • Chikomborero Dumba - 2013-04-03 02:35

    That's right, fold your tail and run back to mommy. This guy doesnt at all know what is cutting. Now the French have to defend SA equipment!? No one is ever going to take the SA military seriously. You sow a fool for president, you reap a field of moronic decisions.

      Gary Doyle - 2013-04-03 04:03

      I agree with you and what makes things worse is that sa's leaders feel no embarrassment or shame by this big mess. In their delusional heads they feel they have done good for whatever reason they are there.

  • Phumlane Mambane - 2013-04-03 03:17

    something is fishy here , I don't Believe we're being given the truth here. I believe there's still a lot that is gonna come out. And Mr JZ why do you need to be told of what to do about your troops?

      Lionel De Frontignac - 2013-04-03 04:00

      This is the problem with politicians - even the DA, who claim to have ethics, look dirty with their cheap snipes about our soldiers in the CAR...Why didn't they ask for the withdrawal of troops during Mbeki's tenure? I'm seriously rethinking my usual vote for them (DA); maybe it's time to go Agang.

      Stephen AndKathy Whiteley - 2013-04-03 06:50

      Ld, the DA has received plausible evidence that the ANC used national assets for private gain. Stephen

  • Gary Doyle - 2013-04-03 04:21

    Desperate and pathetic president defending SA's presence in CAR at a memorial service. These idiots are beyond feeling any shame for this tragic and embarrassing situation.

  • Clement Mokone - 2013-04-03 05:09

    They fought like lions! But the rebels took the capital, so where is the fight like lions? Or why did de rebels bring white cloth seeking terms for peace? Come on, somethin is no good here. N our army was protected by French soldiers. Zuma is a BAD leader. The opposition parties and people ought to push for a vote of no confidence.

  • Phae Rayden - 2013-04-03 05:26

    And who's in charge of the AU? Any connection to the old guard of the ANC is questionable, all money grabbers and covering eachothers backs starting with the arms deal.

  • Warren Carne - 2013-04-03 05:47

    What a joke? Who's actually in control here?

  • Terence Wessels - 2013-04-03 06:05

    Personal business interests. May the ghost of the murdered 13 haunt you forever showerhead. Oh wait, you don't care, just lie and dance around it. Disgusting excuse for a man.

  • Marko Kalapac' - 2013-04-03 06:14

  • Cane Corso - 2013-04-03 06:15

  • Peabo Siphelele Mkhize - 2013-04-03 06:31

    And this is our leader *smh* What an embarrassment! Cant believe his 1st term isn't even over yet & he'll be actually getting a 2nd term. What an idiot!

      Nkosinathi Gezindaba Snr - 2013-04-03 06:38

      I respect elders, I would rather say he is incompetent with his current government and they haven't finished the first term, its not even funny! It would be rather difficult for me to vote the ANC next year or Mother Ramphele, as she is an ANC agent! Or the DA for that matter! Viva FF-Plus Viva! LOL

  • attie.tredoux - 2013-04-03 06:37

    it is time that Zuma shows his mettle (if he has any) and not taking cues from other countries

  • raymond.kok3 - 2013-04-03 06:55

    why when Morgan from the MDC in Zim ask him to intervine in Zim did he tell the whole world it was not the role of SA to meddle in other country internal policies and now we are in CAR wherever the hell that is defending a goverment that has been disposed .and they keep lying about it

  • Felican - 2013-04-03 06:59

    Mercenaries by any other name. Yes some die, some survive, some forget, some hide things inside forever. Nothing's changed - because the more things supposedly do change, the more they stay the same. Even to the fact that 'our soldiers' were having to fight against 'child soldiers' (in the words of one of the returned). Still sounds like the past of things. So!! Where is progress, oh greed; Death where is thy sting?

      george.mabena.146 - 2013-04-03 07:14

      Felican harsh words but truth,man. What the blazes did our soldiers want there? Somebody have to answer. That's a tendency of a dictator state or must I say a warlord? I wouldn't be surprised seeing where our president is from!!He is busy purging his opponent, what next?

      Cane Corso - 2013-04-03 07:51

      Oh Death, where is thy release...

  • Siyambuka Archibald Sikrweqe - 2013-04-03 07:49

    very funny Mr President, In DRC it was UN's Decision that's why there r African & European Soldiers, In Sudan it was Au's decision that's why SA's Soldiers & other african countries are there.. SA soldiers are the only soldiers deployed in CAR & u tell us is not your decision?

  • Mishack Tintswalo Hlungwani - 2013-04-03 07:52

    But our soldiers are dying you fool

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