Zuma urges African Standby Force to become operational


South African President Jacob Zuma has called on the African Union (AU) to “activate requisite measures”, including speedy operationalisation of the African Standby Force (ASF), as part of speeding up efforts to bring peace and security to the continent.

In a statement issued by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO), he is quoted as being “concerned” about the activities of certain armed groupings in various African countries.

These include the kidnapping of school children in Nigeria and the bombing and maiming of civilians in Kenya.

South Africa is one of a handful of countries on the continent which has committed to the ASF which the Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) sees as being one of the measures that will assist in stabilising Africa.
“The government and people of South Africa condemn in the strongest terms the abduction of school children in Nigeria by Boko Haram and calls on the kidnappers to release them without further delay.
“Terrorism, in any form and from which ever quarter, cannot be condoned,” he said adding the bombing of civilians in Kenya was also “deplorable”.

He also called on the people of the Central African Republic (CAR) to work towards peace in their country.
“They have endured enough strife and conflict. We urge all leaders in CAR to unite the people behind a common vision of peaceful co-existence and national unity,” he said pledging South Africa’s continued support for the AU International Support Mission in CAR (AMISOM).

The emergence of incidents such as the Kenya bombings and the Nigeria kidnapping threatened to undermine progress on economic and other fronts on the continent.
“Challenges such as these underline the need for the AU to move on previous agreements to operationalise the ASF.
“It is crucial to build a stronger and a well-resourced AU to take forward the promotion of peace, security and the socio-economic advancement of the continent. Part of the capacity needed by the AU is the establishment of the ASF for rapid deployment in crisis areas without delays.
“As a member of the AU peace and Security Council (AUPSC), South Africa looks forward to its next meeting to discuss the security situation of all these sister countries and collectively find solutions to the challenges confronting them,” Zuma said.

As part of planning to bring the ASF to an operational level a field training exercise has been planned for Lesotho in October. Among objectives set for the exercise are testing the rapid deployment capability, working with other organisations involved in peace support, including civilian and police capacities, and the building of force capacity and improving inter-operability.