Continental security deployments cost SANDF R1.8 billion


South African National Defence Force (SANDF) peacekeeping deployments to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mozambique are costing nearly R2 billion a year, defence minister Thandi Modise has revealed.

In a parliamentary reply to the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Washington Tseko Isaac Mafanya on the annual deployment costs of the SANDF across the continent, Modise noted that the SANDF in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has elements deployed with the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in the east, with the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) in Goma, and with the Composite Helicopter Unit that supports the Monusco peacekeeping mission. This comes at a cost of R849 million.

Operation Mistral cost R801 million in 2019; R637 million in 2020; R691 million in 2021; and R674 million in 2022.

The SANDF contribution to the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) costs R1.09 billion, under Operation Vikela. R80 million was spent in 2021 and R344 million in 2022 but as the operation is ongoing, further funding is consumed.

In a briefing to the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) on 23 February, the SANDF provided further details on the annual costs of ordered as well as ad-hoc deployments. It stated that Operation Corona, the border safeguarding tasking, consumes approximately R1 billion a year, with R1.008 billion spent in 2019; R1.018 billion in 2020; R1.098 billion in 2021; and R961 million in 2022. 70% of this goes towards the compensation of employees.

Operation Cordite, the deployment of a battalion-size force with the United Nations to Darfur in Sudan, ended in 2016, but the full withdrawal of troops and equipment only concluded years later, and cost R3 million in 2019 and 2020.

The SANDF’s maritime security Operation Copper cost R8.3 million in 2019; R5.9 million in 2020; and R31 000 in 2021. R16.2 million was allocated in 2022, but the SANDF stated that funding for Operation Copper allowances will be utilised to cater for the shortfall on Operation Vikela in Mozambique.

A substantial amount of money goes to the SANDF’s unplanned ad-hoc deployments, which have totalled over half a billion Rand over the last five years.

These commitments range from humanitarian assistance to foreign countries to disaster and civil unrest deployments within South Africa. Since 2019, ad-hoc deployments have included the repatriation of South African citizens from China (Operation Ditaba) in 2020 (R15.5 million), Operation Notlela (Covid-19 response – R876 million in 2020), Operation Ligcoco in 2020/21 and 2022 (citizen repatriation – R9 million plus), 2019 flood relief in Mozambique (R8.5 million), Malawi flood relief the same year (R7.7 million) and Zimbabwe flood relief, also the same year, (R34 million). Responding to flooding in KwaZulu-Natal in 2022 cost R135 million.

Following the July 2021 unrest in South Africa, Operation Prosper expenditure amounted to R416 million. Also under Operation Prosper, deployment of troops to protect Eskom installations cost R37 million in 2022. The ongoing Eskom deployment is estimated to cost R206 million.