The affordable education loan option
Cape Town - Parliament's joint standing committee on defence chair has failed to respond to requests for a hearing to discuss the deployment of soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the DA said on Friday.
“I have made three separate requests for a special hearing on 11 April 2013, 31 May 2013, and 28 August 2013 for a special hearing on the SA National Defence Force deployment in the DRC,” Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier said in a statement.
“However, I have never received a formal reply and no special hearing has been scheduled.”
He said chairman Jerome Maake was quoted in a newspaper report claiming that a special hearing on the SANDF deployment to the DRC “might be a waste of time”.
But, Maake said he had discussed the issue with Maynier.
“I responded to his letters and I acknowledged that I received the letters,” he said.
Maake said there were specific protocols in the way the committee worked, including having a committee program.
“It is not a situation where somebody (can) jump in to say we should discuss this or not,” he said.
“(The) CAR (Central African Republic) is on the program. The DRC is not on the program but we have to see how to fit it into the program.”
He claimed Maynier's statement was “electioneering”, since they had already discussed the issue.
Maynier said it was “imperative” that SANDF chief General Solly Shoke provide a detailed briefing to the committee on the deployment.
“Parliament must be absolutely sure that the SANDF (personnel) are properly trained, equipped and supported for the mission in the DRC. We cannot afford another military disaster in the DRC,” he said.
“If Jerome Maake does not respond to me by close of business on Tuesday... I will escalate the matter to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Max Sisulu.”
Last week, President Jacob Zuma informed Parliament that 1345 soldiers had been deployed to the DRC as part of the United Nations Force Intervention Brigade in the eastern DRC.
The deployment followed the passing of a UN resolution in March authorising a force to intervene in cases where negative forces threatened people's lives and property in the east of the DRC.
Zuma said on Thursday that no South African soldiers had been critically wounded in clashes with rebels in the DRC.
“Three of our soldiers have been injured in the conflict since the weekend, largely from shrapnel wounds. None have been seriously wounded,” Zuma told reporters at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
“Our soldiers are well-trained and are ready for their responsibilities towards building a better and more peaceful Africa. South Africa has deployed troops in fulfilment of our international obligations towards the United Nations,” he said.