Address by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP in the Parliamentary Debate on deployment of SA National Defence Force to Central African Republic 23 April 2013
Mister Speaker, Mister President and Honourable Members,
“They had gone to CAR to assist. We never anticipated that we would be attacked. Somebody said when they were interviewing me, is it that maybe we were failed by our intelligence that had not picked up that we were going to be attacked”. This is what the Honourable Minister of Defence told the Nation two weeks ago.
The Minister would have given better answers had she demanded an operational report from her Commanders.
Her argument that she “did not anticipate to be attacked” is incomprehensible, considering that the CAR government briefed her of the imminent offensive from the rebel forces during her visit to that country late last year. It was during this meeting that the CAR government requested reinforcement from the South Africa government. The Minister came back and briefed the President about this request.
Subsequently, President Zuma announced the deployment of an additional 400 troops in CAR with the mandate to disarm, demobilise and integrate the rebel forces into the army as well as protect the SANDF’s 26 trainers in CAR.
Given this unambiguous mandate, it is puzzling to hear the Honourable Minister claim that she and her Commanders did not anticipate to be attacked.
The existence of the operational report mentioned above would have given us specifics on details about the people who failed our troops in CAR and in the process disgraced our country. This report is important if we are to avoid making similar mistakes in future and to ensure that we take punitive steps against those who did not carry out orders.
The same report would interrogate the allegations that our troops were deployed in that country to protect former President Bozizé and the business interests and assets of some politically connected South Africans.
While talking of former President Bozizé, he made a startling revelation in December last year, when he publicly complained that his government was being targeted for giving mining rights to South Africa and China. The question now remains: “To what extent have these mining rights been diverted away from South African State owned mining companies in favour of a select few politically connected individuals and companies, such as Chancellor House, as reported?”
It is becoming a norm in the African continent for countries to help other countries in exchange for their resources.
In light of all the above, we should ask ourselves whether our presence in CAR served national interests or narrow party political interests.
However, the reluctance of Government to establish a Commission of Inquiry to look into this matter compels us to be in agreement with those who claim that our troops in CAR were used to ensure that the looting spree in that country continued unabated.
I wish to conclude by stating that, no amount of cover-ups and misinformation will prevent the truth about what happened in CAR from eventually coming out.