Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Cautious SANDF stalls DRC force - report

28 May 2013, 16:44

Goma - Deployment of a unique new UN combat force, billed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as a peace enforcer for eastern Democratic of Congo (DRC), is being delayed by logistical difficulties and reticence from troop contributor South Africa.

An uneasy six-month peace in eastern DRC collapsed last week when clashes erupted between government troops and M23 rebels near the region's largest city Goma, days before a visit by Ban and World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.

The two men were on a mission to promote the latest international attempt to pacify the conflict-torn region, where armed groups, the army and neighbouring countries have for nearly two decades battled for control of land and resources.

A $1bn World Bank aid package aimed at bringing much needed development is to act as carrot for the plan.

But the stick - a 3 000-strong UN Intervention Brigade of Tanzanian, South African and Malawian troops with an unprecedented mandate for offensive operations against some 30 armed groups - has only just begun to arrive.

Ban said this week it may take up to another two months before the long-awaited force is operational.

"The troops are coming but it's more of a trickle than anything else," a senior UN official in Goma told Reuters.

To date, only around 500 South African and Tanzanian troops have arrived in Goma, UN sources say, with delays partly due to logistical and planning problems, including where to base South Africa's incoming troops.

Analysts say South Africa has also been irked by a perceived slight in the choice of both the brigade's command, which has gone to a Tanzanian, and the overall UN military leadership in DRC, which went to a Brazilian general whose last job was tackling criminal gangs in Haiti.

"It seems there was a lot of horse trading going on at the United Nations, rather than choosing the appropriate person," defence analyst Helmoed Romer Heitman said.

M23 won't target UN force

This led to some discussion over whether South Africa - keen to flex its regional muscles - might pull out in protest, according to Jason Stearns, director of regional think tank the Great Lakes Institute.

Rebels may also be using the delay to seize the intiative before the brigade arrives, Stearns said.

"M23 wants to be able to either prevent the Intervention Brigade from arriving altogether or to be in a very strong military position once it arrives," he said.

M23's military commander Sultani Makenga told Reuters on Monday his troops would not target the UN force but would defend themselves if needed.

He said reviving stalled peace talks in neighbouring Uganda was the only way to break the military deadlock in eastern DRC.

No one from the South African Defence Force was immediately available for comment, though military sources there say the force is undergoing training.

The South African government is determined, following the death in March of 13 of its soldiers at rebel hands durign a peacekeeping mission in neighbouring Central African Republic, to avoid a similar debacle in Congo, Heitman said.

It was the country's worst military losses since the end of apartheid in 1994.

"The intention is to ensure they are well-trained... They are taking on board the lessons of Bangui," he said.

Tension is rising as Congo's notoriously ill-disciplined army itches to avenge humiliations at the hands of M23, including a rout in November which saw the insurgents briefly seize Goma.

On the northern outskirts of the lakeside town, Indian peacekeepers have deployed tanks and set up a road-block - a thin, blue-helmeted line separating the two sides, with rebel positions clearly visible in the surrounding hills.

At least three civilians were killed last week after rebel shells fell in aid camps and residential areas, according to the United Nations. The army's increasingly aggressive attitude risks worsening the situation and jeapordising more civilian lives, Goma's Mayor Naasson Kubuya Ndoole said.

"I met a soldier who told me that if M23 continues, the army is prepared to chase them all the way to Rwanda," he said.

"This determination is dangerous. It's better this neutral force arrives to play the role of arbiter or to tackle the M23 calmly."

- Reuters


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...