The United Nations, in the form of a senior official tasked with African peace operations, was on the receiving end of a message “not to tamper with the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB)” in the Democratic Republic of Congo from Stergomena Tax, Southern African Development Community (SADC) executive secretary.
She informed Bintou Keita, UN assistant secretary-general for political and peacebuilding affairs and peace operations responsible for Africa, of the regional bloc’s stance on the FIB, staffed by three SADC countries, during a meeting where the agenda included regional security developments, including violent attacks and terrorism.
“The 40th SADC Heads of State and Government Summit (held in Maputo in August) on reconfiguration of the FIB in DR Congo, as submitted to the UN Secretary General, among others, emphasised the FIB should not be tampered with,” Tax told Keita.
The FIB is staffed by soldiers from Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania. A proposal has been put to the world body to change its composition to include one non-SADC battalion.
In May, South African Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula came out strongly against changing composition of the FIB.
Speaking during a virtual SADC/UN meeting she pronounced herself in favour of the FIB’s current make-up with a battalion each from the three troop contributing countries. Mapisa-Nqakula was against a suggestion one FIB battalion be replaced by a composite battalion, staffed by troops from an as yet undisclosed number of countries.
African Defence Review (ADR) director Darren Olivier sees it better for the FIB to remain a SADC-led force with expanded capabilities rather than become “just another MONUSCO unit”.