South Africa’s latest deployment in support of African peace and stability, in the Central African Republic (CAR), has come under fire, in part due to its stated R65 million cost.
David Maynier, Democratic Alliance MP and Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, wants to know why capacity building of the Central African Republic (CAR) defence force needs “elite combat formations” such as the Parachute Regiment and the Special Forces Brigade.
He has also questioned the deployment cost given by President Jacob Zuma in his letter to National Assembly Speaker, Max Sisulu, on January 7.
Maynier maintains SA National Defence Force (SANDF) elements have been deployed into “the middle of what amounts to a civil war in CAR. There is surely little opportunity for the South African soldiers to assist with, for example, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of the CAR defence Force.
“Moreover, if the reason for the deployment was simply to provide assistance with these tasks why use the Parachute Regiment and Special Forces Brigade? It unfortunately creates the impression the SANDF was deployed to provide support for President Francois Bozize.”
The outspoken Maynier, who was on the receiving end of former Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s wrath on a number occasions, is also not happy with the stated deployment cost of R65 055 000.
“The deployment cost over a five year period cannot possibly be R65 million. This amount is more likely to be the cost of the deployment of the defence force for a couple of months. The real cost of the CAR deployment at current force levels over a five year period is likely to exceed R1 billion.”
With the SANDF battling to meet its commitments, both in terms of budget and manpower, Maynier also questioned the CAR deployment against a background of local use of military and security forces.
“Last year it was reported about 1 050 soldiers were deployed on border protection as from April. Add to this the 16 722 police and security force personnel protecting Ministers and their residences and the country has more bodyguards than troops protecting the country.”