The proposed home guard, utilising Reserve Force personnel as well as elements of the rural population to assist in, among others, protection of critical infrastructure and prevention of rural crime, continues apace under the umbrella of Project Koba-Tlala.
A recent Army Reserves retreat heard Mzantsi Home Guard elements include basic intelligence, community development and liaison, water and sanitation and a command incident system. The envisaged addition to the part-time component of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) will provide “organised and co-ordinated blanket coverage of South Africa’s rural and semi-rural areas to enhance collection of information”.
This, project director Brigadier General Gerhard Kamffer told the gathering of the landward force’s senior command component of its Reserves, will allow the national defence force to be more proactive when approaching operations as well as ensuring a speedier and more comprehensive flow of information (intelligence) than is currently the case.
Kamffer has been at the forefront of Koba-Tlala since it was announced some four years ago. At that time he was Director: SA Army Reserves, a position he was moved from earlier this year with Brigadier General Freeman Moni taking over.
Kamffer sees Mzantsi as a home guard that will link with and be structured to support government’s development agenda with an emphasis on rural and semi-rural areas.
When first made public, it appeared Koba-Tlala would primarily focus on job creation by ensuring military messes were supplied with at least a percentage of their fresh produce requirements by local vegetables growers and co-operatives. Koba-Tlala’s first foray into vegetable production was in the unofficial North West military capital Potchefstroom and subsequently to Infantry School in Oudtshoorn. According to Kamffer, 40 SA Army messes are commercialised to date with further plans to boost enterprise development as well as see the establishment of vegetable gardens at units and eventually, farming on SANDF land.
Part of the thinking which led to Koba-Tlala’s establishment is the high unemployment figure among young South Africans and using the collateral utility of the SANDF to improve “employability” by way of skills development and community service. Planned and underway Koba-Tlala activities are not seen as military training and focus on citizenship, discipline and teamwork to achieve set objectives.
From the point of view of utilising Reserve Force soldiers when not called up, Koba-Tlala will augment income in poorer rural households and part-time soldiers with specialist skills, for example security, can be utilised in other areas including protection of critical infrastructure. Similarly, communication skills can be put to use in communities. This was done when Reserve Force elements were deployed as part of the Vaal River tasking three years ago to inform local communities as to why they should ensure infrastructure such as water purification and sewage treatment needs to be cared for rather than allowed to suffer at the hands of vandals and thieves.