The five year deployment of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) personnel to the troubled Central African Republic (CAR) will cost in the region of R1.25 billion and not the R65 million first stated.
President Jacob Zuma, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF, was reported by Times Live as saying the R65 million first given as the deployment cost over five years between January 2013 and March 2018, was only for the current financial year.
“Only part of this will be covered by the SANDF budget. No provision has yet been made for the financial year 2013/14 for this deployment. The Department of Defence estimates approximate R21 million a month will be required. Treasury is being consulted in this regard,” the Johannesburg daily’s online edition said.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) party’s Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans David Maynier said the Presidential statement “effectively concedes” a mistake was made in estimating the cost of the CAR deployment.
“The real cost of the deployment is R1.28 billion.
“We have to get to the bottom of why we (South Africa) are planning to sink R21 million a month into the CAR. It makes no sense given SANDF priorities on the country’s borders and within the Southern African Development Community,” the outspoken DA MP said.
Last month Zuma told Parliament in a letter he had approved the deployment of 400 SANDF members to the CAR. They will assist in restoring stability in the politically volatile country until March 31, 2018.
Their taskings will comprise capacity building of the CAR military as well as planning and implementing disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of rebels into the military.
This has also been questioned by Maynier who said the deployment of specialist troops, including the Parachute Regiment and Special Forces Brigade, was not in line with providing the type of assistance set out by the President.
“It unfortunately creates the impression the SANDF is being deployed to provide support for President Francois Bozize.”