Progress on activation and implementation of the Mzansi Home Guard, first proposed three years ago, was reported to a November meeting of Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD).
Current Acting Chief Defence Reserves, Brigadier General Zoleka Niyabo-Mana, informed the oversight committee the capability [of the envisioned home guard] “is at an advanced stage of development” with “some implementation” done.
Mzansi has its origins in a 2020 request by now retired general Lindile Yam, then SA Army Chief and latterly SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief of Staff (CoS). He wanted input on the possibility of Reserve Force personnel, put “into service” as it were when not called up, to be involved in improving rural safety. This saw then SA Army Reserves Director, Brigadier General Gerhard Kamffer, drawn into the mix via his Project Koba-Tlala, aimed at providing part-time soldiers with potential revenue earning skills.
Soon after the now defunct Defence Reserves website reported Kamffer, no longer at Army Reserves and now heading the Koba-Tlala project and which seemingly resides in the Directorate Corporate Services of the SA Army, as saying the Mzansi Home Guard concept is “organised and co-ordinated blanket coverage of South Africa’s rural and semi-rural areas to enhance collection of information”.
“This requirement will allow the SANDF to become more proactive in its approach to operations and ensure a quicker and more comprehensive flow of information than is currently the case. This element can be defined as a ‘home guard’ system – referred to as the Mzansi Home Guard. This system must be linked with and structured to support the developmental agenda of Government as well as the C SANDF Project Koba-Tlala,” according to the one-star, who was the driving force behind research to rename many Reserve Force units as instructed by then Army Chief, Vusi Masondo, as part of removing apartheid and colonial names from the South African military lexicon.
Additional taskings envisaged for Mzansi are in areas such as community support by way of water sanitation and purification as well as being part of the national response to natural and other disasters, where the SANDF is committed by Operation Chariot.
The intelligence tasking proposed back then for Mzansi men and women was elaborated on by Niyabo-Mana. Her presentation has it “Mzansi will provide for intelligence gathering as well as localised security which were some of the shortcomings that were identified during the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in 2021”.
General Botha Regiment in Mpumalanga and Mapungubwe Regiment in Limpopo are the Mzansi Home Guard “pilot units”. Part-time soldiers in these two Army Reserve units have, according to Niyabo-Mana’s presentation, had training in basic intelligence gathering and “disaster management subjects” such as firefighting and water purification with “specialist hand-to-hand combat training” to prepare for action in “situations of unrest”.
Next up, the SA Air Force (SAAF) one-star told the JSCD, is finalisation and implementation of the Mzansi Home Guard to “increase the reach of the Reserves”.