SANDF making a difference in Africa and South Africa: Sisulu


The South African National Defence Force is making a difference in Africa and South Africa, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu has told the Foreign Correspondent’s Association, a club for international journalists in South Africa.

“We asked for this interaction in order to introduce ourselves and our programmes to you, your media houses and citizens of your countries,” Sisulu told a FCA lunch yesterday. “Since our appointment in May 2009 we have sought to lay the foundation to build an SANDF that is always in the highest possible state of readiness to achieve our constitutional mandate of protecting the territorial independence of the state. Most important to protect our people at all times, to achieve this, we have had to address a number of systemic challenges within the SANDF.
“These are challenges that developed after budget cuts of 1994 due to limited resources and growing demand for basic services in the country. Structural arrangements of Departments of state also saw the SANDF treated as another Department of State. Today we are able to say we have created a new dispensation for the SANDF to operate in its own military dispensation out of the public service.
“This allows for the Commander-in-Chief [President Jacob Zuma] and the SANDF to develop systems and programmes to take the SANDF to a higher level of state of readiness without the red tape of the public service. The military in its own form is a unique organisations and the systems that manages it must be unique. The Defence Amendment Act that came into being in December 2010 has introduced this new dispensation for the SANDF,” Sisulu said.
“We are convinced that in this new dispensation the SANDF would be able to reach a higher level of readiness to be able to achieve its constitutional mandate of protecting the nation and also respond to the question that says ‘what is the role of a Defence force in a developmental state with a number of social challenges’?
“Today we come here to share with you some of our progress, our thinking and most important to share with you our commitment to peace and prosperity in the African continent. We are part of the African Continent. We participate in its institution of governance, the African Union and its regional structure, SADC. We are bound by a common destiny. Our participation in peacekeeping operations under the United Nations and also as a nation is based on the principle of facilitating a better life for our neighbours and friends.
“Why is Africa very important to us as a nation and the SADC region? We define ourselves in terms of regional and continental security. That we wish for our neighbours and citizens of our continent all that we wish for ourselves, peace, a better life and economic growth. We remain committed to the advancement of the African Agenda and security of all its people and children. The development and strengthening of the African Union (AU) as a continental body and its structures is of great importance to South Africa. It is our deep held belief that central to Africa’s economic development is a united Africa working together to address its challenges. The security of the SADC is of utmost important to us, as a region we continue to work together to improve security to facilitate growth.

Apart from being UNSC members, South Africa and Nigeria are also members of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), presenting a unique opportunity to ensure alignment between the work of these two bodies regarding conflict on the continent. South Africa began its two year term on the African Union Peace and Security Council in April 2010.

More than 15 years of peacekeeping deployment has proved that the deployment of the SANDF in countries like Burundi and Sudan as part of the UN or the AU, not only stabilised these countries and allowed for economic development but directly provides the opportunity for our entrepreneurs to diversify our trade profile on the continent and investment in African economies.
“The number of new South African businesses in Sudan, Burundi and the DRC is a demonstration that peace is the foundation for economic development. We call on business people in South Africa, SADC and across the continent to support those countries that after recovering from war and other political challenges,” Sisulu said.
“To support peace efforts and economic development during the coming 2011/12 financial year, we will be deploying a total of 2240 military personnel in operations across the African Continent, in the DRC, in Darfur,  and the CAR. Our support to elections in Mozambique, DRC and recently the referendum in Sudan has allowed us to appreciate the SANDF logistical ability in coordinating elections and providing logistical and security support. …Our experience in leading us to redefine peace keeping to ensure that post-conflict reconstruction is a central post of our work.
“During the FIFA 2010 World Cup, the SANDF in cooperation with the SAPS provided support in terms of safety and security, the provision of airspace security, Special Forces teams, maritime resources to ensure maritime safety, chemical, biological and radiation (CBR) teams, as well as medical support to the Department of Health. On average, 4573 members were deployed per day for the duration of the operation.
“To ensure protection of our borders the SANDF has assumed the borderline control function. In execution of this task under Operation Corona, the SANDF has adopted a phased-in strategy. The first (Zimbabwe/ South Africa border) and the second phase (Mozambique/ South Africa border) have been rolled out. The last phase of the strategy with regard to the Lesotho/ South Africa border will be completed by completed in financial year 2012/2013. We are now working with our neighbouring countries for them to also deploy along the borders to ensure a total stop to illegal activities across the border. Since the deployment of the SANDF cross border syndicates have been decreased and illegal crossing are going down very fast. It is our commitment as the SANDF to bring to stop illegal activities across our borders with our neighbouring countries. It will not take a day but we are committed,” the minister continued.
“Our deployment along the border of the Kruger National Park will also strengthen security in the Park and bring to a stop to Rhino poaching.
“…as stated by the President of South Africa the SANDF will always be ready to play a role in furthering peace and facilitating economic development in Africa. Burundi is a good example of what is possible when a nation stand up and work together to achieve peace and economic development.
“We also continue to work with our SADC partners to address security challenges in the SADC region including poaching and threats of piracy. Through our deployment to the borders we would be able to strengthen security in the Kruger National Park and along the borders of our neighbouring countries.”