The issue of intelligence has been a simmering pot since the announcement of the death of 13 crack South African soldiers in what many commentators have called the country’s “military misadventure” in the Central African Republic (CAR).
It boiled over in Parliament this week when Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula briefed the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD).
The man who stoked the fire was FF+ defence and police spokesman Pieter Groenewald.
In response to Mapisa-Nqakula’s answer that the SANDF had neither been prepared for or expected the rebels to attack them, he said this was acknowledgement there was “insufficient support and, in particular, insufficient information support”.
This came after she conceded South African soldiers in the CAR were not prepared to deal with an attack.
“We never deployed to CAR to wage a battle and we never anticipated a battle.”
Groenewald maintains this is sufficient for “serious questions” to be asked about the ability and capability of Defence Intelligence (DI).
“Should DI not have had intelligence to stop what happened?” he asked adding this specialist branch of the SANDF should be fully investigated.
Another who was not impressed by the JSCD meeting was David Maynier, DA shadow minister of defence and military veterans.
He labelled it “a disgrace and a national and international embarrassment”.
He claimed committee chairman Jerome Maake had tried to make sure difficult questions about the deployment of SA National Defence Force (SANDF) troops to the Central African Republic (CAR) were suppressed.
“This was clearly an attempt by the ANC’s chief whip, Mathole Motshekga, who was also ominously present at the meeting, to politically manage the ‘CAR situation’ in Parliament,” he said.
The JSCD meeting was called to give the Minister and senior SANDF staff an opportunity to explain events in the CAR which ended with the so-called Battle for Bangui on March 23 when 13 members of 1 Parachute Battalion were killed in a nine hour long, high intensity firefight.
South African troops have since been withdrawn from the CAR and government has said it does not acknowledge the new government set up under Seleka rebel leader Michel Djotodia.
Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said President Zuma had complied with all provisions relating to informing both Parliament and the Public on the employment of the SANDF.
“Allegations to the contrary are inaccurate. On every occasion he has employed the SANDF he has informed Parliament and will continue to do so in line with Constitutional requirements.”
Mapisa-Nqakula is scheduled to address Parliament on the CAR situation on April 23.