President Jacob Zuma wearing his SA National Defence Force (SANDF) commander-in-chief hat has committed South Africa to more than R1,4 billion in expenditure over the next 12 months on three separate out-of-country military deployments.
None of the three – to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan and in the Mozambique Channel – are new. All three see South African airmen, medics, sailors and soldiers stand alongside uniformed counterparts from Africa and other parts on the world in either peace support or peacekeeping missions (DRC and Sudan) and keeping territorial waters safe from pirates (Mozambique).
Zuma yesterday (March 31) informed Parliament of the “extended employment of troops” according to a statement issued by the Presidency.
A total of 1,388 SANDF members will find themselves in the DRC between now and March 31 next year serving “in fulfilment of international obligations of the Republic of South Africa towards the United Nations”. The Presidential statement indicates all will be part of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), operating under the MONUSCO umbrella in the strife-torn central African country. According to the UN there are currently 1,322 uniformed South Africans in the overall MONUSCO mission.
The cost of the DRC deployment is R909,687,562.
The SANDF will between now and March 31 next year ensure 850 SANDF members find themselves in Darfur, Sudan, as part of the hybrid AU/UN UNAMID force. This deployment is also “in fulfilment of international obligations” and will cost R369,079,895 for the 12 months.
South Africa’s third and final military commitment outside own borders is the Southern African Development community (SADC) counter-piracy tasking Operation Copper.
“Two hundred and 20 members of the SANDF were employed to monitor and deter piracy and other related illegal maritime activities along the Southern African coast of the Indian Ocean. They were employed for the period for the period April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015 and the employment has now been extended to March 31, 2016,” the statement said.
South Africa is the lead country in this deployment supplying a naval platform as well as aerial support and the associated manpower. The next 12 months of Operation Copper cost R 127,027,773.
The UN mission in the DRC – MONUSCO – is the largest of its 16 peacekeeping missions internationally with troop, police and military expert contributions coming from 55 countries. There are currently 21,067 of these in the DRC at present according to the latest UN statistics. Countries are literally an A (Algeria) to Z (Zambia).
In Sudan, South Africans find themselves alongside soldiers, police and military experts from 43 other countries in a total combined AU/UN force of 15,863. UN statistics indicate there are currently 783 South African soldiers in the country.