South Africa’s defence minister was one of many taking part in a recent UN peacekeeping ministerial conference where she gave some insight into the national defence force’s approach to peacekeeping.
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told delegates South Africa supported ongoing efforts by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to strengthen the world body’s peacekeeping operations and missions. This is notwithstanding the US reduction of its funding contribution to the world body. The only notable effect, in this regard at present, is 50 less South African soldiers being deployed on rotation later this month to the MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The national defence force publication SA Soldier reports Mapisa-Nqakula as telling the high-level gathering: “The nature of the conflict we face demands dynamic responses to the manner in which we conduct peacekeeping operations”.
In support of this South Africa, as a country, was committed to comprehensive measures as regards peacekeeping, mediation, post-conflict recovery and peacebuilding. All these are at all times underpinned by political solutions.
Mapisa-Nqakula went on to say: “For us to meet the high standards of performance and effectiveness we have set ourselves, uniformed training and capacity building should take precedence to ensure our peacekeeping efforts are more effective. Capacity building is a key element in the preparation of peacekeepers.
“We are committed to have well-trained peacekeepers aware of the conduct and discipline required for any situation and will provide them with relevant training and capacity building skills to ensure personal protection.”
She also used the conference to inform those present of South African efforts on the gender side of the peace and security agenda.
“We have a proud record of senior women commanders in peacekeeping missions giving expression to practical efforts to establish security. One of our highlights is the current contingent deployed in North Kivu as part of MONUSCO is led by a woman, Lieutenant Colonel Tiisetso Sekgobela.”
The South African battalion in the FIB currently has the largest number of women deployed in DRC.
These are two examples of “deliberate efforts” by the South African government to encourage women to follow career paths in all musterings and spheres in the national defence force, including the combat environment, she said.