Mapisa-Nqakula to visit SA troops in the DRC


Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula will spend the latter part of this week in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) conducting an oversight visit to one of the mission areas where South African troops are deployed.

In addition to gaining first-hand information from SA National Defence Force (SANDF) airmen, medics and soldiers in the sprawling central African country, the Minister will also spend time with female troops to commemorate international Women’s Day (Wednesday, 10 March).

According to a statement issued by her office: “the Minister deems it imperative to conduct oversight visits to mission areas where South African troops are deployed in support of peacekeeping missions and international obligations”.
“The SANDF is a component of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) deployed by the United Nations in the eastern part of the DRC. The purpose of the visit is to accord SANDF troops an opportunity to engage Minister Mapisa-Nqakula substantively on issues affecting them, provide her with first-hand insights into both the positive and negative impact of deployment in an effort to devise suitable executive level interventions, where necessary.”

She will meet with South African military personnel in Goma, headquarters of MONUSCO, the largest UN peacekeeping operation, currently headed by former SANDF Joint Operations Chief, Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi.

The South African component of the FIB has performed well in the densely forested and mountainous areas where rebel groups operate in eastern DRC. The South African Air Force’s Rooivalk combat support helicopters, along with Oryx medium transport helicopters, have been under fire on a number of occasions and have responded well with no injuries or serious airframe damage reported.

The Ministerial interaction with female soldiers will be because “women in the military face a variety of challenges as opposed to their male counterparts, especially when they have to balance duty to their country and personal life in a foreign land”.

She has, according to the statement, “set aside time to not only appreciate female troops, but to afford them a platform to ventilate issues affecting women soldiers in mission areas and hopefully, together find sustainable solutions”.

The Minister and her entourage, which includes leadership of the SANDF Transformation Unit, will also go to Beni in North Kivu.

Mapisa-Nqakula will also hand out military care packages to SANDF members.