The intelligence apparatus of the Democratic Alliance (DA) claims there are 1 495 South African soldiers earmarked for deployment in northern Mozambique. This comes after South African Special Forces were seen arriving in Mozambique last week apparently part of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) standby force.
The party, in the form of its shadow defence and military veterans minister, says South Africa hasn’t been officially informed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), as to what the South Africans are doing, never mind how many of them are there.
Parliament has seemingly not yet been notified by the President of the deployment as required by Section 201 of the Constitution.
Last week photographs emerged of a SA Air Force (SAAF) 28 Squadron C-130BZ Hercules at Pemba Airport unloading SA Special Forces soldiers and equipment. Reports had it the South African specialists are part of lead elements of the SADC Mozambique standby force with force commander, South African Major General Xolani Mankayi, also in the east African country.
According to Kobus Marais, DA point man on defence and military matters, there are concerns about the continental deployment.
“Funding and resources are two concerns which come to mind,” he said pointing to the Central African Republic (CAR) and what military observers dub the Battle of Bangui in March 2013. Fifteen South African soldiers died in a heroic effort to keep an over-powering number of rebels from their positions in the CAR capital.
“Another CAR embarrassment cannot be allowed, especially given it is the same officer commanding involved,” Marais said.
He wants the Commander-in-Chief, as a matter of urgency, to make public details of the number of soldiers presently in Mozambique and how many more are anticipated to be sent there as part of the regional bloc multi-national force. Ramaphosa must also tell South Africans what the mandate of the SADC force in the east African country is as well as how it will be resourced and paid for and the envisaged deployment, as in movement of troops or equipment to a place or position for military action, period.