The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has deployed a mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with the major aim of restoring peace and security in the eastern part of the sprawling central African country.
South Africa, Malawi and Tanzania comprise a regional force which, an SADC statement dated 4 January says, is “a regional response to address the unstable and deteriorating security situation prevailing in eastern DRC”.
Advance elements of the SAMIDRC (SADC Mission in DR Congo) force were deployed on 15 December. The SAMIDRC is led by SA Army Major General Monwabisi Dyakopu, who commands a team from countries with experience in the DRC as boots on the ground and materiel contributors to the United Nations (UN) MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade (FIB).
Dyakopu is no stranger to DR Congo, with four completed tours of duty on deployments MONUSCO. On one tour he commanded the FIB, which was then, and still is, the only UN peacekeeping force with an offensive mandate. He also has an Ethiopia/Eritrea tour to his credit.
SAMIDRC’s deployment is in line with a decision taken last May at an extraordinary SADC Heads of State Summit in Windhoek, Namibia.
The presence of the southern African regional bloc mission “demonstrates the commitment of SADC member states to supporting the DRC in its efforts to achieve lasting peace and stability and, ultimately, create an enabling environment for sustainable development and prosperity,” the statement said.
It added that the SAMIDRC deployment is in accordance with the principle of collective self-defence and action in the SADC Mutual Defence Pact (2003). This states, in part, that an “armed attack against a State Party shall be considered a threat to regional peace and security and shall be met with immediate collective action”.