Voting has come and gone in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), leaving a volatile situation across the central African country to the extent it is deemed unsafe for donors to the Goodwill Parcel Project to visit at present.
A delegation representing the annual gesture from the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and wider corporate South Africa was due to have gone to the DRC this month to personally hand gifts to South African airmen, medics and soldiers there. In addition to serving with the MONUSCO Force intervention Brigade (FIB), South Africans are also based at MONUSCO bases in eastern DR Congo and in Kinshasa where they assist with training of the DR Congo armed forces, FARDC.
“As matters stand at present, the handover of goodwill parcels to SANDF personnel in DR Congo has been postponed indefinitely,” Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton, SO1, Operational Communication at SANDF Joint Operations Division told defenceWeb.
The group of sponsors and donors was originally due to call on South Africans in uniform in the first week of December. This was put on hold because of concerns about safety ahead of the DR Congo elections.
There have been calls for a recount of votes in DR Congo from two African regional representative bodies – the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (CIRGL) – with the UN calling for restraint from all parties involved.
Soldiers and other military personnel deployed on the South Africa border protection tasking Operation Corona received the goodwill parcels in the second week of December. This saw a convoy of vehicles leave from AFB Waterkloof in Centurion bound for bases around the country in Mpumalanga, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape. A stop was also made at the SANDF mobilisation centre in Bloemfontein.
In addition to goodwill parcels for deployed personnel, their families were on the receiving end of some festive season cheer in the form of a food hamper. This was delivered to where the families are resident.