DRC deployment another government disaster

Issued by Kobus Marais MP – DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans
02 Apr 2024 in News

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Kobus Marais MP.

The DA has written to the Chairpersons of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, requesting that they urgently reconvene the Committee to consider troubling reports over the operational crisis currently unfolding in the SANDF deployment in the DRC.

SANDF’s DRC deployments, as part of the SADC Mission in the DRC (SAMIDRC), are said to be operating at severe operational risk due to dire conditions which include a lack of field kitchens, no doctors or nurses to deal with emergencies, no refrigerated cargo containers, lack of ablution facilities and no money to pay for supplies. Only 6 toilets are reportedly available for a contingent of 600 soldiers.

With this dire situation, the Committee should:

  • Summon the SANDF command elements to explain why the deployment was authorised when it was clear that the SANDF logistics division did not have the capacity to deploy operational infrastructure like ablution facilities, medical support, and food preparation equipment; and
  • Consider whether the continued deployment of the SANDF in the DRC is placing SANDF members at risk and whether a recommendation needs to be made to Parliament to rescind the President’s deployment notification.

In February 2024, the DA was the only party that issued a stern warning against the DRC deployment – wherein we pointed out that it was reckless to deploy troops without adequate support or the requisite equipment to function effectively in a hostile terrain like the eastern DRC. The reality is that the SANDF is currently unable to meet the requirements of foreign deployment because of its deteriorated state of combat readiness.

It is simply not surprising that the SANDF is unable to pay for supplies as last week the DA exposed how the Department of Defence (DoD) has become a financial blackhole where taxpayer’s money is disappearing without a trace. The DoD’s Audit Committee revealed that the DoD raked up fruitless and wasteful expenditures of R430 million but has only been able to recover R800 (eight hundred rand). This represents a recovery rate of only 0.002%.

The Audit Committee made the grim finding that “the department has a very high-risk profile, risks remaining unmitigated for years”, which was supported by the Auditor General’s report. In short, the ANC government has broken the country’s defense force and unless the systemic challenges are addressed, the continued foreign deployment of the SANDF poses a significant threat to the country’s long-term ability to defend our own national security.