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Opposition questions South Africa’s involvement in SADC mission to DR Congo

By IGIHE
On 11 January 2024 at 04:34

South Africa’s Democratic Alliance has criticized the deployment of South African troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) as part of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) regional mission. The SADC mission, named SAMIDRC, was sent to support the Congolese government in restoring peace and security in the eastern region, specifically dealing with armed groups, notably the M23 rebels in North Kivu Province.

The Democratic Alliance, in a statement on January 10, labeled the deployment as "reckless," expressing concerns about the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF) capability to effectively combat insurgency. The Democratic Alliance‚Äôs Kobus Marais, who is the Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development, emphasized that the SANDF lacks the necessary capacity and prime mission equipment for anti-insurgency operations.

Marais called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to rescind the decision and recall the troops, citing potential risks to the lives of uniformed forces. The SADC mission, led by South Africa and supported by troops from Malawi and Tanzania, aims to counter the M23 rebels, whom the Congolese government views as a terrorist movement.

Military experts have raised concerns about the intervention brigade’s effectiveness, pointing out the need for proper air cover, transport, and air elements. The familiarity of the M23 rebels with the challenging terrain in eastern DR Congo poses additional risks. Marais noted that the withdrawal of the United Nations mission after more than 20 years in the region highlights the difficulties faced in hostile terrain.

Accusing President Ramaphosa of a political decision without considering the military’s technical capabilities, Marais criticized the African National Congress (ANC) for misplaced priorities. The SADC mission was initiated in May 2023 following accusations by President Felix Tshisekedi that the East African Community (EAC) mission was passive in addressing the rebels. The EAC mission withdrew its troops in December 2023, leading to criticism of Tshisekedi for undermining peaceful regional initiatives through political dialogue.


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