DA concerned with SANDF deployment to DRC

The DA has slammed the SANDF for deploying troops to the DRC.

FILE: M23 rebel soldiers keep guard during the inauguration of newly elected M23 Rebel political wing President, Bertrand Bisimwa in Bunagana on March 7, 2013. Picture: AFP/ISAAC KASAMANI

JOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Alliance (DA) has criticised the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for sending soldiers to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) saying their mission is peace enforcement rather than peacekeeping.

The troops have been assigned to control fighting between Congolese forces and the M23 rebel group.

Fighting resumed near the eastern DRC city of Goma, capital of the country's troubled North Kivu province.

Last week, President Jacob Zuma told Parliament that over 1,300 troops had been deployed to the DRC as part of a United Nations (UN) intervention brigade mandate, costing South Africa more than R400 million a year.

The DA's David Maynier said South Africa cannot afford a "repeat performance" of the military disaster in the Central African Republic (CAR) where 13 South African soldiers were killed during clashes with rebels in March.

The party has also called on SANDF chief Solly Shoke to explain to Parliament whether soldiers are properly equipped to help with peacekeeping efforts in the region.

"There's no doubt that this is a high risk mission and we have to be sure that the SANDF are properly equipped to execute the tasks assigned to them by the UN."

Meanwhile, two South African a soldiers were injured at the weekend after engaging in armed combat with rebels.