China will support the Southern African Development Community (SADC) with construction of a regional logistics depot in Botswana for the bloc’s standby force.
The secretariat, in the form of a delegation led by executive secretary Stergomena Tax, met with a delegation from the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of Defence, on the side-lines of the recent FOCAC (Forum on China Africa Co-operation) summit in Beijing.
“The meeting discussed co-operation in the areas of peace and security during which the SADC secretariat presented its proposal on construction of the SADC regional logistics depot. Senior Colonel Che Liye expressed China’s commitment to support SADC in this area, in line with the FOCAC 2018 Declaration on Peace and Security. He indicated the support can be considered through the existing Chinese grant provided in the framework of peace and security support to Africa,” an SADC statement said. No monetary amount is given in the statement.
The regional logistics depot will be built at Rasesa in Botswana and when complete will house general purpose equipment for the military, police and civilian components of the SADC standby force. Rasesa is 10km west of Mochudi on the Gaborone/Mahalapye road.
According to the SADC the depot is part of the SADC Standby Force to support regional peace operations under the African Union Standby Force Policy Framework. It will facilitate storage of material, equipment and end-user stocks to ensure readily available logistics support when needed. The aim is to provide stocks on a “just in time” basis to meet the rapid deployment capability of the SADC standby force to support regional peace operations.
“The SADC regional logistics depot function is to undertake peace support and humanitarian missions and it forms a vital component of force readiness,” the statement said.
No indication is given of whether actual construction or site preparation work for the depot has started. The SADC executive secretary visited Rasesa, where 19 hectares of land has been allocated for the depot, in January last year for a site inspection ahead of approval of an environmental management plan.
The SADC standby force was officially launched at the 27th ordinary summit of SADC heads of state and government in Lusaka in 2007.
The SADC standby force, along with the SADC brigade, supports regional peace operations. Its functions, according to the regional bloc’s politics, defence and security organ, are observation and monitoring, peace support, interventions for peace and security restoration at the request of a member state and actions to prevent the spread of conflict or the resurgence of violence after agreements have been reached.
During his FOCAC trip to Beijing, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa commended China for its co-operation in Africa’s Peace and Security Architecture, established in 2004 to address conflict and instability.
“China has nearly 3 000 troops, police and observers engaged in six of the seven UN peacekeeping operations on our continent. Chinese diplomats worked tirelessly brokering peace in Sudan. China contributed to transforming the untenable condition of ‘no peace no war’ between Eritrea and Ethiopia into one of friendship and good neighbourliness,” Ramaphosa said.
“Among the P5 of the Security Council, China is applauded for pursuing the “P+4″ practice, consulting with the four African members of the Security Council on issues related to the continent. As South Africa assumes its non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, I instructed our diplomats to honour this practice,” he said.