SANDF sent to Mozambique ’won’t compromise internal deployments’
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Cape Town - DEFENCE Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Thursday night the SANDF deployments in the country has not been compromised because of the 1 495 soldiers being sent to Mozambique as part the SADC mission.
Mapisa-Nqakula, however, said the reduction of the 25 000 strong deployment following the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng was under consideration.
“As we talk right now papers are on way to the president and will be sent to you for us to reduce the 25 000 to 10 000, so that the focus of troops is purely in provinces which are still calm but volatile,” she said.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the provinces where deployment would remain were KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, and the Western Cape because of the taxi conflict.
“There has been violence two weeks ago so we will still keep some troops. The deployment in Mozambique does not compromise our deployments internally here.”
She made the statement when she and the chief of joint operations, Lieutenant-General Siphiwe Sangweni, briefed the joint standing committee on defence on the employment of 1 495 soldiers for service in fulfilment of the country’s international obligation to the SADC.
President Cyril Ramaphosa recently wrote to Parliament notifying it of the members of the SANDF employed in order to support the Republic of Mozambique to combat the acts of terrorism and violent extremists that affected the area of Caba Delgado Province.
Ramaphosa said the employment of members of the SANDF was for the period from July 15 until October 15.
“The expenditure expected to be incurred for this employment amounts to R984 368 057,” he wrote in his letter dated July 23.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the deployment to Mozambique under Operation Vikela was made up of various elements of the SANDF across the service and divisions.
She told the MPs that the decision to deploy was taken by the SADC heads and government in Maputo on June 23.
The minister said other SADC countries were also contributing troops, notably Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Botswana.
She said the current deployment could not be the last, but they would “keep Parliament informed from time to time”.
Briefing the committee, Sangweni said the military deployment was for three months.
“There will be continuous assessment of the security situation which might lead to a follow-up deployment,” he said.
Sangweni would not be drawn in the meeting into giving the current total strength of SANDF deployment in Mozambique, due to operation and military protocols in the meeting.
He said necessary information which was relevant would be provided in a separate platform if it was required.
Responding to questions on whether South Africa would be refunded for the expenditure in the SADC mission, Mapisa-Nqakula said: “SADC as a region has an obligation to fund its standby force. Whatever we spend by forces will come from the SADC region.”
She later explained: “It is not an operation funded by South Africa. It is mission of the SADC region. Money is to be allocated by SADC to each one of the contributing countries.”
Co-chairperson of the committee, Cyril Xaba, said it was critical that the threat in Mozambique was extinguished before it spilled over to other countries bordering Mozambique.
“It is a real threat and it is in that context we support the intervention to suppress it so that we don’t have to face the situation,” Xaba said.