The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has increased its export of military skills in the form of instructors going to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but this is apparently being done without the correct Cabinet memoranda, including a Government Gazette publication.
The latest available edition of the SANDF publication SA Soldier, reporting on a Chief of Defence Forces Tripartite Mechanism meeting notes “an additional 113 instructors will be reporting at Mura in Mayo to conduct specialised individual training for 3 500 recruits”.
The mechanism meeting was attended by General Sachipengo Nunda, Angolan Armed Forces Chief of General Staff; General Solly Shoke, SANDF Chief, and Lieutenant General Amuli Dieudonne, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the DRC Armed Forces (FARDC). Part of the meeting’s duties was to assess the Kitona and Mura training centres with a view to formalising the training working plan.
Afrikaans weekly newspaper Rapport has it that, although acting on an order from a higher authority, the “hasty” deployment was done without a budget first being put in place.
“This means the army was forced to ‘borrow’ R55 million for the instructors’ rations and logistics. This will also have implications when it comes to paying for supplies for domestic and foreign deployments at some point in the next financial year,” the paper reported. The instructors flew to the DRC on a chartered aircraft in May.
In terms of standing Department of Defence (DoD) instructions for deployment of troops outside South Africa’s borders, SANDF Commander-in-Chief, President Jacob Zuma, has to authorise and announce them via a notice in the Government Gazette and also inform Parliament. This is then confirmed by a Cabinet memorandum but the paper said it could not trace any such notification. The paper did however find documentation requesting an additional R185 million for Thebe during a mid-month military budget discussion.
The FARDC training operation is known as Mission Thebe and costs the SANDF around R60 million a year.
Mission Thebe is said to be in line with the Angola/DRC/South Africa tripartite agreement.