A South African National Defence Force (SANDF) delegation is currently in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where it is handing over goodwill parcels to soldiers. It also took the opportunity to visit the South African ambassador there.
The SANDF on Tuesday said the Chief of Staff at Joint Operations Headquarters, Brigadier General Philip Mavhungu, paid a courtesy visit to South African Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lieutenant General (Ret) A.M. Shilubane.
Shilubane highlighted the importance of the SANDF presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, adding that the country was a strategic partner to South Africa. He also stated that the presence of the SANDF in the DRC was an enabler for peace and very crucial for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
“We have been an honest broker in the Congo. People know that we are an honest broker and this was proven during the December elections,” Shilubane said. “We are one of the few countries that stood up and said can we give the Congolese the opportunity to decide what they want to do.”
The DRC went to the polls on 30 December in the third democratic election since the country gained independence from Belgium in 1960. Felix Tshisekedi was declared winner of the controversial vote.
“I must confess, we had a difficult year last year, on a daily basis, trying to predict and guess with all the scenarios what was going to happen. We were lucky we got it right. The Congolose never went violent, during and after the elections. But we are told the Congolese are very violent, all they know is war. They didn’t,” Shilubane said.
Mavhungu said the SANDF is very happy to have people like Shilubane who are always there to give advice and support to the SANDF. Mavhungu was accompanied by Director Defence Corporate Communication, Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi, and Director Human Resources Service at the SA Air Force, Brigadier General Mongezi Kweta. They are part of the SA National Defence Force Goodwill Parcel Project (GWPP) visit to the deployed forces in the DRC.
The delegation, which includes captains of industry and members of the Spouses Forum, is visiting members of the SANDF who form part of the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade.
The Goodwill Parcel Project is designed to lend a hand of support to deployed SANDF members and appreciate the good work they are doing in pursuance of stability and peace across the continent and within South Africa’s borders.
South African soldiers were due to receive their goodwill parcels before Christmas last year but the handover was delayed by the elections in the DRC and consequent safety concerns.
Soldiers and other military personnel deployed on the South Africa border protection tasking Operation Corona received their goodwill parcels in the second week of December. This saw a convoy of vehicles leave from AFB Waterkloof in Centurion bound for bases around the country in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape. A stop was also made at the SANDF mobilisation centre in Bloemfontein.
In addition to goodwill parcels for deployed personnel, their families were on the receiving end of some festive season cheer in the form of a food hamper. This was delivered to where the families are resident.
It has become a tradition for sponsors of the SANDF Goodwill Parcel Project to visit soldiers deployed on both external and internal duties to personally hand over parcels and interact with servicemen and women far from home.
Contributors to the 2018 goodwill parcels are Sanlam, who have contributed R570 000; Old Mutual R450 000; SA Army Foundation R450 000; Liberty Life R350 000; AVBOB R220 000; Metropolitan R200 000; Mintiro ya Vulavula R200 000; ASSUPOL R100 000; Clinix Health Group R100 000; Huletts Group R100 000; Maxi Credit Solutions R100 000; SAAF Benevolent Fund R80 000; Novare R60 000; MFS Retirement Advisory Services R50 000; SAAB R50 000; SA Navy Fund R50 000; Alite Life R5 000 and Mikhael and Cleopatra Gondo Foundation R5 000.