Senior Ethiopian defence force commander in South Africa

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South Africa, in the form of its national defence force chief General Rudzani Maphwanya, is hosting his Ethiopian counterpart, Field Marshal Birhanu Jula Gelalcha, Chief of the General Staff of Ethiopia, for a five-day official visit.

Gelalcha, accompanied by senior Ethiopian National Defence Force officials, arrived in South Africa on Sunday and is scheduled to leave on Thursday after what a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Directorate Corporate Communication (DCC) statement says is “deliberations and engagements”. These will cover bilateral matters, industrial co-operation, information sharing as well as education, training and development aspects “of mutual benefit to both militaries”.

“The visit,” according to the statement, “is of great importance due to the strategic nature of South Africa’s relationship with Ethiopia and Field Marshal Gelalcha aims to use his visit to build strategic alliance with his South African counterpart, enhance level of bilateral relations on defence co-operations, which will lead to discussions relating to global security situations, African Standby Force (ASF) matters, intelligence co-operation as a strategic area of importance, including ways to enhance co-operation in areas such as foreign learning opportunities for both militaries and responses to ever changing demands of peace support operations (sic)”.

“This visit allows General Maphwanya and Field Marshal Gelalcha to reflect on developments on the African continent and internationally, including opportunities that can be exploited and realised by the two armed forces in United Nations (UN) as well as African Union (AU) sanctioned missions in order to protect the most vulnerable citizens against unlawful repression and human rights violations by enemies of peace where each of these militaries are required to deploy soldiers.”

In a meeting with Thandi Modise, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Gelalcha noted longstanding historical relations between Ethiopia and South Africa and their peoples  laid a strong foundation for military co-operation.

He said the two sides will work to expand co-operation and move it to a higher level in the future.