Criticism Mounts Against South Africa’s Participation in SADC Force

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While attending the funeral of Namibian President Hage Geingob in Windhoek this Sunday, several heads of state took the opportunity to discuss the ongoing conflict in eastern DRC, including the South African President. South Africa, which has deployed 2,900 soldiers as part of the SADC mission, lost two soldiers in mid-February near Sake. The deaths of these two soldiers have sparked a debate in South Africa about the presence of South African troops in the Congolese conflict.

An under-equipped army, insufficiently trained, out of place… opposition critiques are severe. Julius Malema, leader of the EFF party, is one such critic, insisting that South African troops should withdraw immediately. “Our army can’t even guard cabbages; they would be useless on my farm. We don’t have the capabilities; the ANC has destroyed the army.”

On the opposite end of the political spectrum, the Democratic Alliance accuses President Ramaphosa of sending soldiers to their deaths. They claim the soldiers lack the preparation and equipment to operate in such a complex terrain. The problem, according to defense specialist journalist Darren Olivier, who works for the Defense website, stems from budget cuts.

“Budget cuts, significant and repeated, weaken the army. They diminish its capacity to engage externally and carry out such complex operations. In my view, it’s irresponsible to send a contingent equipped in this manner, given the level of threat and preparation of a group as numerous as the M23.”


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