Mapisa-Nqakula will represent South Africa at Great Lakes meeting

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Matters of continental security and peacekeeping are in the hands of the South African president and his State Security Minister during the US Africa Leaders (USAL) summit currently underway in Washington with Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula moving into the frame tomorrow.

She will represent South Africa at a meeting of foreign and defence ministers of the Great Lakes countries in New York.

According to her office, matters up for discussion are a review of the Kampala Declaration Dialogue and the outcomes of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)/International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) meeting held last month. Broader security issues affecting Burundi, the DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda are also expected to be discussed.
“South Africa is not part of the Great Lakes Region, but plays a valuable role in the pursuit of sustainable solutions to the various challenges faced by the region and its people. Therefore, South Africa’s participation in the meeting is of uttermost (sic) importance,” a statement issued by her office said.

South Africa currently does not have any military deployment in the Great Lakes region with SANDF participation in peacekeeping missions in the DRC and Darfur.

The possibility of South African soldiers again finding themselves in the troubled Central African Republic (CAR) as part of an AU ACIRC (African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises) force in the foreseeable future is not going to happen according to Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga of SANDF Corporate Communications. He was responding to speculation this could happen after next month’s ACIRC force preparation exercise by the SA Army.

President Jacob Zuma, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force, is currently in the United States heading the South African delegation to USAL. The summit follows President Barack Obama’s three nation African visit last year which included South Africa and it is has focussed on improving trade and investment in Africa and extending the timeframe of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Inputs from the US on continental peacekeeping and other security aspects will be discussed before the Summit ends.