President Jacob Zuma says South Africa will send troops to Mali should it be collectively decided at the African Union summit this weekend.
“We cannot determine what do we do in Mali as an individual country, that’s going to be taken by a collective…whatever decision the collective takes, if it feels South Africa should play a particular role, certainly we’ll be ready to do so,” Zuma told Reuters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Zuma said that the conflict in Mali requires a collective response as the security situation has deteriorated badly. He said that the causes of the Mali conflict must be understood, especially in light of how the situation in Libya was handled.
Acccording to recent reports there are now 1 000 soldiers from West Africa and Chad on the ground in Mali. The African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) currently comprieses 830 soldiers from West African nations such as Togo, Benin, Niger and Nigeria and 170 from Chad, Reuters reports.
Earlier this year South Africa deployed about 400 troops to the Central African Republic (CAR) in order to assist with capacity building. The 400 soldiers now in the CAR bring to over 2 400 the number of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) personnel doing continental duty. The single largest SANDF contingent is in the DRC (more than 1 200), with close to 800 in Sudan.
Reports state that international donors are due to meet in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on January 29 to discuss the African military operation in Mali, and France said they would be asked to provide about 340 million euros ($452 million.)
An estimated 30,000 people may have been displaced as a direct result of the fighting in Central/Northern Mali, according to UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey.