The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Monusco, is ending after 20 years. It will be replaced by troops from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), led by the South African military. Thomas Mandrup, an expert in African security governance and South African military and foreign policy, recently wrote a paper on the subject. We asked him about the new mission and what awaits it.
What prompted the deployment?
- There was also increased frustration with the East African Community Regional Force because of its lack of positive impact on the security situation in the eastern DRC.
- The DRC became a member of the East Africa Community in 2022 and has historical trade relations with east Africa.
What challenges await the SADC mission?
- The SADC force is expected to attempt, in cooperation with the local security forces, to neutralise the main rebel groups operating in the eastern DRC.
- This is something that Monusco and the East African Community Regional Force have not been able to do for the last 20 years.
- The rebel groups have operated in that area for many years, know the terrain, and are integrated with the local population.
What role will the South African National Defence Force play? What resources does it have?
- The South African National Defence Force will lead the SADC intervention force.
- However, the South African National Defence Force is overstretched and underfunded and has been for a long time.
- The South African National Defence Force faces a host of challenges.
- The defence force has problems keeping its equipment operational and has, for instance, only one operational C-130 transport aircraft.
- The South African National Defence Force has reached a stage where it can no longer continue to deploy without significant additional funding and intake of recruits.
What are the risks?
- If the needed funding is not secured, the troop contributing countries will have to fund the missions from their own budgets.
- The SADC mission in Mozambique, for instance, has struggled with funding, which has hampered its operational capabilities.
- Notably, the South African National Defence Force is in a worse shape than it was in 2013.
Thomas Mandrup receives funding from The Carlsberg Foundation.