The plush Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town was the venue for a three day meeting between South Africa and Zimbabwe to discuss a wide range of security and defence issues affecting both countries.
The South Africa-Zimbabwe Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security (JPCDS), an annual bilateral meeting held to discuss matters of mutual concern with respect to security, safety and defence that affect the two countries, held its 7th Session from 21 to 23 November.
The deliberations focussed on cross-border crime, human trafficking, counterfeit goods, rhino-poaching, and drug trafficking. The South African delegation was led by Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and included numerous Ministers and Deputy Ministers from the departments participating in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster. The Zimbabwean delegation was led by Sydney Sekeramayi, Minister of State Security, and included the Minister of Defence, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Senior government and military officials from both sides were also in attendance.
The recent seizure of the town of Goma in the resource-rich eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo by the M23 rebel group was “condemned in the strongest terms”. The Commission called for the halting of any further advances and demanded an immediate withdrawal by the rebels.
Around 2 000 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) personnel are currently taking part in peacekeeping operations, including a large contingent as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO). Two South African peacekeepers were wounded earlier this month after being caught in a gun battle between the army and rebels in the eastern province of North Kivu.
The Commission urged SADC (the Southern African Development Community) to call on the United Nations to review the mandate of MONUSCO with a view to realign it to become more relevant to the security challenges in the DRC.
The continued existence of transnational criminal syndicates in both countries was noted with concern. These crimes include irregular migration, international terrorism, drug and human trafficking, money laundering, poaching and illicit mining. Other areas of concern were the smuggling of tobacco, precious metals and other goods.
The Commission noted further that the fight against corruption must be an integral part of the anti-crime measures as criminals are often aided by corrupt officials.
The Commission also noted with satisfaction the continued liaison between the South African and Zimbabwean security forces to ensure effective border patrols to curb illegal activities.
The 8th Session of the Commission will be held in Zimbabwe in 2013.