Mosi, the second tri-nation naval exercise to be held in South African waters with Chinese and Russian participation, is going ahead in five weeks’ time despite criticism.
The Directorate Corporate Communication (DCC) of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) issued a statement in the name of Brigadier General Andries Mahapa, stating that: “As means to strengthen the already flourishing relations between South Africa, Russia and China, a multinational maritime exercise between these three countries termed Exercise Mosi will take place in Durban and Richards Bay areas of KwaZulu-Natal province over the period 17 to 27 February 2023”.
It reads in full: “This will be the second time such an exercise is taking place involving the three naval forces with the first one held in November 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa.
“Exercise co-ordinators have concluded all necessary co-ordination and preparation arrangements for this exercise during virtual planning conferences held in the beginning of December 2022.
“This year’s Exercise Mosi will see over 350 SANDF personnel from various arms of service and divisions participating alongside the Russian and Chinese counterparts with an aim of sharing operational skills and knowledge.
“While Exercise Mosi will be conducted in the southern oceans over the said period, it will coincide with the Armed Forces Day celebration that will take place at uMhlathuze Municipality in Richards Bay, east of Kwa-Zulu Natal province.”
Armed Forces Day will take place on 21 February.
South Africa’s decision to proceed with Mosi has drawn criticism in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and South Africa’s refusal to condemn the invasion. The government has also received flak for allowing a sanctioned Russian vessel to dock in Simons Town.
“This gives the impression of not being neutral but being biased to one side. Clearly it can alienate us from other important trade partners, the west,” said Kobus Marais, Democratic Alliance shadow defence minister. He added that the exercise was in the best interest of Russia and “another bad judgment, an embarrassment,” on South Africa’s behalf.