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Parliament, Cape Town - Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula spokes out on Tuesday against critics of South Africa's deployment of military personnel on the continent.
The role of the military in supporting peace and stability on the continent was in line with foreign policy objectives, she told the National Assembly during debate on President Jacob Zuma's state-of-the-nation address.
“These objectives recognise the fact that South Africa’s own development cannot happen outside that of the continent, and that our fortunes as a country are dependent and linked to the success of the African story,” she said.
Situations of war and instability on any part of the continent were detrimental to effective development and could, thus, pose direct or indirect threats to South Africa’s own national interest.
As part of this national consensus, it was important to understand and appreciate this principle, and consideration of the role played by the SA National Defence Force in supporting peace and development within the continent.
“I am aware that recently there have been attempts to present this important role as unnecessary, wasteful and without benefit to South Africa,” she said.
“This assertion, in particular with regard to our engagements in the Mozambican channel, the Central African Republic, and most recently the troops' contribution to the Southern African Development Community neutral force in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has at times been deliberately misleading and dishonest.”
It was important for the SANDF to be seen as an essential national asset that should be protected from political postulations or used to achieve sectarian political interest.
“All of us should make careful consideration to avoid the dangerous temptation to play political football with issues of our defence force and keep it free of the influences of varying and competing political interests.
“For our part as government, we will continue to ensure that the primary functions of our defence force will remain those of deterrence, defence, and the protection of key national interests,” she said. - Sapa