South Africa’s Joint Operations Chief, Lieutenant General Barney Hlatshwayo, was point man for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as regards the regional bloc’s support of and commitment to the MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during a meeting at UN headquarters this month.
The South African three star general was mandated to represent and speak on behalf of the SADC Double Troika plus FIB troop contributing countries.
He re-affirmed SADC’s commitment to what the UN called “beefing up” the security situation in the DRC, emphasising the concept of operations (CONOPS) needed to be geared toward enabling the FIB to keep its operational capability intact. Only by doing this would it be able to effectively deal with what the UN has termed “negative forces”, taking into consideration the asymmetrical nature of warfare coupled with terrorist tactics employed particularly by the rebel ADF.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, UN under secretary-general for peacekeeping, acknowledged the importance of SADC as a UN strategic regional partner in what he said was the world body’s ongoing political and peace efforts aimed at stabilisation of the DRC.
He said the UN was ready to continue engaging with SADC to ensure synergy in “neutralisation of negative forces”.
The meeting decided to form a joint UN/SADC task force to work out “various facets related to strengthening the FIB, including additional operational capabilities and enablers to ensure neutralisation of negative forces”.
A follow-up meeting will be held in six months to review progress on FIB issues.
Eight SADC member states were part of the delegation to New York and included Angola, as chair of the SADC organ on politics, defence and security co-operation: South Africa and the DRC as well as Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia.
Three SADC countries – Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania – provide all the manpower and equipment requirements for the FIB which is currently leaderless. This follows the completion of Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi’s two year contract as force commander last month. His replacement has not yet been named.