With the coronavirus pandemic currently very much front of mind for government, other commitments continue and this saw President Cyril Ramaphosa late last week sign three letters for the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to do duty, internally and externally.
The letters, in terms of Parliamentary rules, go to Speaker Thandi Modise. They serve to inform the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces so that public representatives know how the Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF, Ramaphosa, is employing the country’s military.
The first authorised deployment of 2 820 SANDF personnel is part the military’s contribution to the national coronavirus lockdown. The majority are infantry with a small number of SA Military Health Services (SAMHS) members.
The second authorisation, to use Parliamentary bureaucratic speak, is “in fulfilment of international obligations to the UN”.
Ramaphosa’s letter informed both Parliamentary bodies he would keep 1 165 SANDF personnel in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from 1 April this year through to 31 March 2021. They will form part of the multi-country peacekeeping mission MONUSCO and its Force Intervention Brigade (FIB). The FIB is staffed by three Southern African countries – Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania – and is currently the only UN peacekeeping component with an offensive mandate in executing its civilian protection tasking.
“Total expenditure expected to be incurred for this deployment is R899 675 800,” according to the letter.
The President’s third and last letter of the week informing public representatives how the national defence force is going to be deployed is in fulfilment of obligations to the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The obligation is the ongoing anti- and counter-piracy tasking Operation Copper.
Two hundred SANDF personnel, the majority from the SA Navy, are authorised for employment in the tasking which sees a Navy platform patrol the Mozambique Channel. The deployed maritime platform is usually an offshore patrol vessel (OPV), with Valour Class frigates or the replenishment vessel SAS Drakensberg (A301) also tasked. From time to time the maritime component is supported by the SA Air Force (SAAF). This has seen C-47TPs from 35 Squadron and C-130BZs from 28 Squadron deployed to provide extra “eyes and ears” for ship’s crews.
“The employed members will continue deterring and preventing piracy in the Mozambique Channel,” Ramaphosa states.
The expenditure expected to be incurred for the deployment period from 1 April to 31 March 2021 is R154 million, according to the Commander-in-Chief.