The lull before the storm. Those few moments that captivates you as if time has stopped. Then there’s that cold, biting feeling that stings you in the marrow, and all of a sudden you feel afraid. Yes, afraid. Your heart begins to beat at a greater knot; your breathing accelerates, you break a sweat. You look into the distance, and all you see is darkness, albeit the calm that hugs you. It’s warm, its silent, but you can smell pure wrath of human error looming in the distance.
Many might beg to differ as to what I’m about to lay down. My experience or knowledge of militant stratagem may be very much attenuate, but if history has taught me anything, it has taught me never to venture into battle with one who believes he has nothing to lose.
Is the South African National Defence Force ready for this, I asked myself earlier, as I perused through dozens of news articles and reports that the force was gearing up for ‘Mission Impossible’. I couldn’t help but ask myself if South Africa as a country is really, really ready for this. How about her children?
Let’s look at what is at hand
News is trickling in that the ‘top brass’ ‘has’ taken the decision to send more troops into the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it is assembling a battalion that is to face the M23 rebel group in that country.
I don’t know about you, but there seems to be something and everything wrong with such a move.
Not long ago we have witnessed major interventions that have gone sour in many countries. These countries were identified as regions that are said to be “politically unstable and needed immediate military assistance to bring them back to order”, in whatever way (even though we all know the kind of means and tactics employed in these interventions). The majority have been in the Eastern parts of the continent, yet a number of such countries within the African region. To go through the list would be a waste of time, because, as it stands, it seems the news hasn’t hit home as yet
A good example would be Iraq, and possibly one of the most affected countries, in terms of international invasions and interventions of such nature. The cause could have been a noble one, in the ‘fight against terrorism’, as was said, but the result, or aftermath, left almost a million, if not more, people dead and some or the majority, being civilians.
Libya is another country that saw much bloodshed recently, and continues to; even to date, as a result of international interventions and invasions. Has the intervention engendered positive results? Many might say it did, but from the perspective of a Libyan on the ground, the ‘angel might be adorned with horns’. Similar to the situation in CAR where South Africa lost a dozen plus soldiers, at the hands of the rebels in that region.
Simply put, South Africa’s move to send its armed forces to the DRC could be in good faith, considering the international ties that countries always try to preserve, although in this case one hopes all this is entirely to ‘preserve peace’ in the regions and not for personal interests or those set out to benefit a few political cadres and business moguls.
My view on this
I won’t make no bones about this matter, nor will I try and keep mine, because my heart has been licked by pain in the face of what may become of this invasion. Pain; not because I’ll be the one at the forefront in the battlefield. Pain because the country might have to stand and watch as its children are ‘sacrificed at the altar’. The boys will be in the buff.
But, is it at all worth it to spill more blood again, after the CAR tragedy? Is it worth it to see these soldiers die for a cause that many, if not all, in the brigade that is to be sent there know little to nothing about?
Is it worth it to sacrifice the republic’s children to protect and preserve international peace while their own country grapples with its own pandemic of civil unrest? How can you preach peace and unity in foreign terrains when your own background is riddled and marred by in-fighting, crime, gang wars and poverty, to name a few ailments South Africa is facing?
It feels like the real problems are being sidelined here.
Furthermore, let’s hope this intervention won’t bring the battle to our shores. Perhaps no one considers the existence of a notable percentage of Congolese nationals who have made South Africa their home. How will they feel to see their own killed in this imminent battle?
Yes, politics could justify it, and all reasons could be given, to say the soldiers are taking up their ‘rightful’ spot in the battlefield (what they signed up for). For South Africa, as a whole, I have a feeling the soldiers will be hoist with their own petard, to be precise.
M23 is a horse of another colour. The SANDF might have allies, a fortified intelligence team and a “world-class” strategy, but the fact still remains that someone somewhere is jumping head-first into a black mamba’s nest. They are inward bound into a terrain alien to them. The sting is swift, quite painless at first. But the venom will not only instantly cripple your nerves, but it is virulent, and you’ll be left with only seconds to catch your last breath, if none come to your aid.
I strongly doubt they know the ropes. Sounds more or less like an Operation ‘Muddle Through’ to me. Even if we gave them the benefit of doubt, let’s not ignore the fact that M23 is one of strongest and heavily armed rebel groups in that region, and consist of military men, majority being combatants who defected from the national army to join the rebellion. These are not ‘child soldiers’, who the SANDF claims the CAR Seleka rebel group consists of. These are men who will defend what they believe in; and in their own backyard, will not hesitate to send a hail of blood-thirsty bullets in the direction of the SANDF, if attacked. When was the last war that the SANDF fought? I would like to believe the M23 is well trained, and for SANDF unit, which is said to be currently under the “mentorship” of a commander who cheated in the military tests, stands little to no chance when fighting these guys in the Congolese backdrop. It will be a slow, painful death. Not just for the army, but for the country as a whole.
The Emperor wears no clothes.
A heavy storm brews right in front of us, people, and never be fooled or told otherwise. It feels as if somebody is pointing a finger before making sure their hands are clean.
‘The sea is never calm in the eye of a hurricane’, but I guess it’s also true that “even if you were to beat a fly a thousand times, it will never give you honey.” (2013)