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DEFENCE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
24 August 2004
SANDF PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS: DEPARTMENT BRIEFING
Chairperson: Prof K Asmal (ANC)
Document handed out:
Peacekeeping Operations presentation Part 1
Peacekeeping Operations presentation Part 2
The Defence Department briefed the Committee on the scope and nature of the SANDF Peacekeeping operations. The Committee deliberated on the political dimension of troops participation in regional and international Peacekeeping Operations. It recommended that all SANDF troops on returning from Operations should be given all assistance with respect to reintegration and transportation. And during Operations, their families should be catered for and there should be no tax deductions from their salaries.
The Chairperson observed that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) involvement in peacekeeping operations in regional and international missions from 1996 to 1998 was more of a statement of intent. But the intent and strategy had changed now. He therefore invited the Defence Department to address the Committee on the challenges facing the SANDF peacekeeping operations.
Major General Lusse (Defence Department) gave a PowerPoint presentation in which he outlined the current scope of SANDF peacekeeping operations, its approach to participation in international peace missions, its current participation in the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), the nature of its peace support operations, and its peacekeeping operations budget allocations.
PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS: BUDGET
RM 382, 161,383
The Chairperson commended Major-General Lusse for his presentation but added that the presentation was very technical but that it left out the political aspect of the SANDF peacekeeping operations, which would be the focus of the Committee's discussions.
Mr M Sayedali-Shah (DA) remarked that during a delegated visit to Bujumbura in 2003, a Defence Review revealed that the SANDF troops did not have sufficient equipment. He asked if this did not affect the troops' morale.
Mr S Ntuli (ANC), in addition to the state of morale of the soldiers, also enquired about the state of supply of resources during operations.
Mr D Dlali (ANC) was concerned about the role of the military intelligence. He wondered whether they did prior reconnaissance ahead of troops deployment or not.
Mr J Masilela (Secretary of Defence) responded that the Department faced many challenges with regards to deployment of troops. These included finding spare parts for their equipment, long lines of sustainability, and also logistical issues. He noted that a budget of R890 million had been dedicated to the purchase of spare parts but for the past four years it had been difficult to procure these parts. This influenced the state of readiness of the soldiers. He, however, reassured the Members that the morale was high when he visited the troops on the field.
With respect to military intelligence, he said that the SA Intelligence was actively playing a crucial role in both reconnaissance and field work. He, however, prayed that his Department was undergoing a learning experience and hoped that with time things would be improved tremendously.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) was worried about who decided the time for peace enforcement and what was the meaning of humanitarian intervention.
Mr B Mthimkulu (Department of Defence) commented that according to the United Nations regulations, two things were required before the deployment of troops namely: a ceasefire agreement and the consent of the host country. But these had not always been practicable since some of the belligerents violated ceasefire agreements. He cited the instance of Rwanda where this had happened but the Force commander was helpless since he had not the mandate to defend even civilians. He noted that humanitarian intervention depended on the kind of request - such as providing supply airlift services to assist in relief distribution as the SANDF did in Mozambique a few years ago.
The Chairperson added that under the UN Charter the use of force or war was illegal and forbidden with only two exceptions namely: Self-defence and Dictatorial intervention. He explained that Self-defence did not allow one country to invade another in the name of preventive self-defence. He cited American troops in Iraq as an example of 'preventive self-defence'. An example of 'dictatorial intervention' would be the example of Tanzania's invasion of Uganda in the late 1970s. He also highlighted the point that in some instances peacekeeping operations were twisted to suit the major powers as in the case of the Soviet Union's invasion of Korea. He then asked the Department if it was receiving any money from the African Union.
Mr G Koornhof (ANC) had a number of questions: did the SANDF do the training and retraining of troops? Was it refunded by the UN, what was the ratio being adopted for troops in peacekeeping operations, and how did the Department's presentation relate to the African Standby Force?
Mr Masilela informed the Committee that the AU Standby Force was a long-term project and had presently only a brigade. The Department was negotiating the possibility of attaching three of its Forces to this brigade. But it would take up to 2010 before the AU Force took off the ground.
Major-General Lusse (Department of Defence) responded that as regards the ratio of troops deployed, any peacekeeping operation must have at least three battalions. And the ratio would be that while one battalion is deployed to the field, two would be at home during training and retraining courses. He stated that the Department carried out a cross training of troops in various fields to ensure combat readiness and optimum efficiency.
The Chairperson added that some countries like Sweden alone had two to three Standby Forces. He hoped that the Department could raise at least two battalions for peacekeeping operations.
Mr P Groenewald (FFP) asked about the state of discipline amongst the SA troops and if they complied with the UN Charter. The Chairperson noted a case of alleged sexual abuses by SA troops published in some foreign paper.
Mr Masilela maintained that discipline was one of the top priorities of the SANDF. The UN had demanded SANDF participation as critical in UN peacekeeping missions in recognition of the level of troop discipline. He also stressed the need to put in place discipline enforcement capacities in the countries where SANDF was deployed. He dismissed the sex scandal about some SANDF soldiers in the DRC as an unfounded allegation.
Mr Mthimkulu pointed out that the UN had noted that the sex scandal so far had been a media allegation. The UN was set to initiate a preliminary investigation into the allegation before formal investigations commenced.
Mr Z Madasa (ACDP) queried the scope of powers of peace monitors with respect to monitoring illegal trafficking of small arms.
Major-General Lusse answered that military observers could only report illegal arms trafficking but they had no powers to arrest any delinquents.
Mr N Fihla (ANC) wondered whether troops received salaries with tax deductions following a recent regulation.
The Committee recommended that troops should be given all assistance with respect to reintegration and transportation when they return from Operations. Their families should be looked after and there should be no tax deductions on their salaries. This it hoped would impact positively on troop morale.
The meeting was adjourned.
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