Friday, February 15, 2013

SADC Mission to Eastern DRC

SADC mission could be suicidal

A 4 000-man regional force may not be strong enough to quell the rebels in the DRC, writes Mmanaledi Mataboge and Phillip de Wet.

15 Feb 2013 03:00 - Phillip De Wet, Mmanaledi Mataboge

South Africa plans to deploy troops to the most troubled part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) soon, on what could be the first aggressive, long-term engagement by the army since 1994. But how many troops will go, how long they will be committed and why they are really going remain unknown.

South Africa's army chief Lieutenant General Vusumuzi Masondo flew to the DRC this week to meet the commanders of the United Nations force stationed there to consider the feasibility and logistics of deploying soldiers.

The Southern African Develop­ment Community (SADC) this week said it required only a mandate from the UN Security Council to go ahead with the deployment of an intervention force in which South Africa would have a key role.

According to SADC, the contingent will number 4 000 troops at a cost of about $100-million. The SADC planning chief, Brigadier General Maaparankoe Mahao, said this week that the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region estimated that it would cost $100-million, "but we consider this to be a gross underestimate".

The South African National Defence Force would not share details of its preparation, but defence insiders said South Africa was planning to contribute no more than a company of soldiers (about 100) and those would be drawn from members of the army already in the DRC under the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission (Monusco).

"Unless things change on the ground we're not planning to send a new team," the insider said.

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