South Africa has made a major commitment to curbing conflict in Mali with President Jacob Zuma putting more than R210 million up for humanitarian aid and “capacitation of the police force”.
Defence and military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula confirmed the funding at an AU Mali donor conference in Addis Ababa yesterday.
Her announcement, on behalf of Zuma, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force, comes less than a month after he authorised the deployment of a 400 plus strong contingent of South Africa military to the Central African Republic. The SANDF deployment will apparently cost R65 million over a five year period, a figure which has been questioned by the official Parliamentary opposition.
“On behalf of President Zuma, the Republic of South Africa pledges US$10 million (more than R90 million) for the capacitation of police forces to the Mali Donor Fund in addition to the US$5 million (more than R45 million) pledged by the AU,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
“We have also sent Mali 10 million Euro (about R122 million) worth of humanitarian aid,” she told the conference in the East African country.
“South Africa wishes to commend the AU for allowing us to join hands in Africa's and her friends' quest to curb the conflict in Mali. It is hoped this is the materialisation of Africa's aspiration to stand up against the grave acts of those who opt for blood shedding and political turmoil in trying to satisfy their needs and sometimes, wants. It is hoped this is the full of the African Solidarity Initiative, with its anchor of ‘Africa Helps Africa’,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
So far, $55 million (about R499 million) has been pledged by the African Union to the donor fund.
An initial 3 300 troops, mainly from ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) countries are charged with freeing the north of Mali from rebels as part of the International Mission of Support in Mali (MISMA).
Up until now, a dozen African nations have offered to contribute to this force, bringing its total to 5 000 or 6 000, according to Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore.