All indications are South African military personnel in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will not receive their goodwill parcels before Christmas this year with possible personal safety problems expected during electioneering ahead of a presidential election scheduled for 23 December.
It has become a tradition for sponsors of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Goodwill Parcel Project to visit soldiers deployed on both external and internal duties to personally hand over parcels and interact with servicemen and women far from home.
“The first week in December was set down for the visit to take place,” said Lieutenant Colonel Piet Paxton, SO1, Operational Communication at SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Joint Operations Division.
“This has been put on hold because of concerns about safety ahead of the DR Congo presidential election. Parcels will now in all probability be given to soldiers and others in the DR Congo after the election, probably around mid-January.”
There is no such issue with soldiers doing border protection along South Africa’s land borders as part of Operation Corona.
“The second week of December has been set aside for goodwill parcel project donors and the SANDF Spouses Forum to call on soldiers who will not be home for the holiday season,” Paxton said, adding there would also be a handover of goodwill parcels at the Bloemfontein mobilisation centre in December ahead of a personnel rotation.
In addition to goodwill parcels for deployed personnel, their families are also on the receiving end of some festive season cheer in the form of a food hamper. This is delivered to where the families are resident.
Speaking at the launch of this year’s Goodwill Parcel Project last Friday, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula paid tribute to warrant officers in the SANDF.
“Warrant officers have played a major role in its inception, execution and growth. Had it not been for their initiative, drive and passion it would not have happened,” she told guests at the launch function.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the project was now “an indelible feature in the calendar of the South African defence establishment”. She also thanked sponsors and partners for their contributions saying “no contribution is too small – all are important”.
The project is an opportunity for the business community to engage with the national defence force and for defence leadership to engage with the business community.
“It serves as a vehicle to expose the industry to our armed forces and the contribution they make for the protection of our national sovereignty and territorial integrity, including areas where we are deployed in fulfilment of our international obligations,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
Contributors to the 2018 goodwill parcels are Sanlam, who have contributed R570 000; Old Mutual R450 000; SA Army Foundation R450 000; Liberty Life R350 000; AVBOB R220 000; Metropolitan R200 000; Mintiro ya Vulavula R200 000; ASSUPOL R100 000; Clinix Health Group R100 000; Huletts Group R100 000; Maxi Credit Solutions R100 000; SAAF Benevolent Fund R80 000; Novare R60 000; MFS Retirement Advisory Services R50 000; SAAB R50 000; SA Navy Fund R50 000; Alite Life R5 000 and Mikhael and Cleopatra Gondo Foundation R5 000.
Hamper sponsors are Anchor Yeast, AVBOB, Community Investment Holdings, Huletts, Minitiro ya Vulavula, MPACT, Old Mutual, PROMASIDOR; SA Army Foundation, SA Military Health Service Fund, SANLAM, Umkhombe Marine and Unilever.