Criticism mounts against South Africa's participation in the SADC force

The bodies of the two South African soldiers killed in the DRC were repatriated to South Africa on Wednesday February 21.

They were killed after a mortar exploded at their military base near Sake in eastern DRC.

These two soldiers were part of a contingent of 2,900 South African soldiers participating in the mission to support the Congolese forces at war against the M23.

They are fighting as part of the mission deployed by the Southern African Development Community, SADC.

The death of these two soldiers opened a debate in South Africa: do these soldiers have their place in the Congolese conflict?

[Illustrative image] People gathering next to South African National Defense Force (SANDF) vehicles as part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission as they flee the territory of Masisi following clashes between M23 rebels and government forces, on a road near Sake on February 7, 2024. AFP - AUBIN MUKONI

By: RFI Follow


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With our correspondent in Johannesburg,

Romain Chanson

An under-equipped army, not trained enough, out of place... the opposition's criticisms are harsh.

Like Julius Malema, the leader of the EFF party, for whom the South African troops must withdraw immediately.


Our army can't even guard cabbages, they would be of no use on my farm.

We don't have the capacity, the ANC has destroyed the army.


At the opposite end of the political spectrum, the Democratic Alliance accuses President Ramaphosa of sending soldiers to their deaths.

They would lack preparation and equipment to operate in this complex terrain.

The problem comes from budget cuts, according to specialist journalist Darren Olivier, who works for the Defenseweb site.


Budget cuts, large and repeated, are weakening the army.

They reduce its ability to engage externally and carry out these types of complex operations.

For me, it is irresponsible to send a contingent equipped in this way, given the level of threat and preparation of a group as numerous as the M23.


Also read Eastern DRC: two South African soldiers killed on mission

We will ensure that all the necessary equipment is provided 

,” defended Defense Minister Thandi Modise when receiving the coffins of the two deceased, while telling the families that the soldiers receive adequate training to return safe and sound.

The Congolese Minister of Defense, Jean-Pierre Bemba, transmitted his condolences to the families of the victims and assured that the Democratic Republic of Congo would spare no effort to ensure the security of the SADC forces deployed in the east of the country.


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