President Cyril Ramaphosa has finally informed Parliament of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) employment to Mozambique's Cabo Delgado province as part of the Southern African Development Community's (SADC) Standby Force. The operation seeks to quell regional tensions caused by the ISIS insurgency in the area.
On Sunday the DA urged the President to provide full details of this operation to Parliament after we reliably learned that 1495 soldiers had been employed to Mozambique.
The DA has serious concerns regarding the employment, especially the costs. In his letter to Parliament, the President indicated that the deployment is expected to cost a staggering R984 368 057. There has been no indication where the money will come from, however, the costs certainly cannot be carried by the South African taxpayer.
This is a SADC initiative and the almost R1 billion price tag should be covered by them, not South Africa. The notion that the thinly stretched South African taxpayer will foot the bill for this employment is grossly unjustifiable.
Secondly, the employment of SANDF members will be for a period of three months, between 15 July 2021 to 15 October 2021. The DA is of the view that it will take significantly longer than three months to defeat the ISIS insurgency in Cabo Delgado. We call on the Minister of Defence to provide feedback in this regard.
To avoid a repeat of the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), which resulted in the unnecessary deaths of our soldiers on foreign soil - we need to know everything there is to know about the SANDF's mandate, how they will be resourced, and what the intended effect of their deployment will be.
While we applaud efforts to put an end to the ISIS insurgency in Mozambique, we must ensure that all operations are conducted safely and responsibly in order to maintain regional stability. At the moment, however, many questions about the SANDF's employment to Cabo Delgado remain unanswered.