The new man at the helm of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is no stranger to the central African country with three completed tours of duty there to his credit.
In addition to tours in the DRC, fifty-two-year-old Brigadier General Monwabisi Dyakopu also has an Eritrea/Ethiopia deployment under his belt. Acknowledgement of his ability in peacekeeping saw him assist in the establishment of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) peace mission training centre in the grounds of the Army College in 2006. He was part of the first team training and preparing military observers and military staff officers for continental deployments with the African Union and United Nations.
While Officer Commanding 8 SA Infantry Battalion in 2009, Dyakopu deployed for his first tour of duty in the DR Congo as a battalion commander. Two years later he returned – again in command of the Upington headquartered motorised infantry unit – for another 12 month tour.
In 2013 Dyakopu was appointed SSO Combat Readiness at Infantry Formation headquarters and was promoted to colonel. While here he oversaw preparation and mobilisation of deploying units, including the formative South African contingent of the FIB. This unit is part of the MONUSCO, the UN mission in the DR Congo and still the only world body peacekeeping unit given an offensive mandate to fulfil its civilian protection tasking. While at Infantry Formation he was one of the SANDF team doing planning, preparation and execution for past president Nelson Mandela’s official state funeral.
A stint at SA Army tactical headquarters in Mpumalanga as provincial commander followed before he was summoned to central Africa again, this time as deputy FIB commander. He served for a year until 2017 before returning to South Africa as deputy and subsequently, chief, force preparation for the SA Army.
Dyakopu took over as FIB commander on 21 July. He replaced South African colleague Major General Patrick Dube as number one in the three-nation brigade that includes Tanzania and Malawi.
Dube moved into the FIB commander’s chair in April 2018 for a scheduled 12 month deployment. This was subsequently extended to April this year in the light of what is reported as an “excellent contribution”.