More than 5,000 soldiers coming to Lohathla for Amani Africa


The African Union (AU) field training exercise Amani Africa II set to take place at the SA Army Combat Training Centre (CTC) in the Northern Cape from October 19 to November 7 is shaping up as the single largest military exercise yet to be held in democratic South Africa.

Indications, from a member of the AU peace support division’s Amani Africa II exercise core planning team, are that the total deployment at Lohathla will be above the 5,000 mark. Dr Sayibu Pabi Gariba said troops for the exercise will come from regional standby forces. This includes the Southern African Development community (SADC) as the main force with ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), EASF (East Africa Standby Force) and ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States) also contributing troops.

The AU field training exercise will also take the place of the annual SA Army’s Exercise Seboka this year. Last year this annual force preparedness exercise was held but was rejigged to be an exercise for the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) force, a forerunner to the AU’s African Standby Force (ASF) with South Africa currently the leading proponent and contributor.

Captain (SAN) Jaco Theunissen of SANDF Joint Operations said a series of logistic meetings and planning sessions for Amani Africa would be held in Kimberley at the end of this week.

A resolution adopted by at AU during its recent summit in Johannesburg saw the continental body pledge itself to accelerate operationalisation of the ASF. According to SAnews, Africa “desperately needs a strong force for peace and security to ensure the continent has the stability necessary for sustainable development.” The force would also be able to counter terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and al-Shabaab.