Malawi Defence (MDF) has hailed the formation of Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) intervention force and appealed for coordinated efforts for the continent to sustain peace and stability.
In his address at Malawi Armed Forces College (Mafco) yesterday in Salima where about 600 troops and civilians are undertaking a command post exercise in preparation for interventions in conflict situations within Africa from January next year, MDF Commander General Griffin Spoon Phiri noted that the African continent is challenged by many conflicts.
He mentioned the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), among others, as examples that need coordinated efforts from African security agencies if the continent is to be free from conflicts.
Phiri said: “Before the founding of the African Union [AU], the Organisation of African Union [OAU] did not provide for tools and mechanisms for African States to collectively and comprehensively deal with violent crises due to the shared value of non-interference into the affairs of States.
“We need to come together and plan so that we harmonise the doctrine and procedures for conducting operations. We need a coordinated approach because, as a continent, we should be able to deal with African conflict.”
He said a series of violent conflicts in Africa, notably the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, forced African States to change their security collaboration and approach which resulted in the formation of the African Peace and Security Architecture (Apsa) and the birth of the African Standby Force in July 2002.
On his part, Sadc Standby Force chief of staff Michael Mkokomani said the exercise being conducted in Salima will enhance full operational capability (FOC) of the Sadc Standby Force and prepare it to conduct peace support operations within the African continent.
He said: “The exercise is also conducted with the aim to make the region ready to assume the African Union roster duties for the provision of peace support capabilities beginning from January next year within the framework of African Standby Force.”
Mkokomani said the exercise, which ends on October 15 this year, will strengthen conflict resolution capacity for the Sadc region and the African continent at large.
He said: “This will complement the partial fulfilment of aspirations of the African Union Agenda 2063 in which one of the core values is silencing the guns in Africa by 2020.”
Article 11 of the Sadc Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation compels African States to peacefully prevent conflict.
Deputy Minister of Defence Everton Chimulirenji said it is an honour for Malawi to host the inaugural exercise.
He said: “As Malawi, we are delighted and honoured to be given the opportunity to host this Sadc Standby Force called the Sadc Command Post Exercise. We are happy that over 500 participants from various Sadc countries are taking part in the exercise here.”
The AU established the Peace and Security Council (PSC) as one way of ending wars and conflicts in Africa by 2020.
Head of the Sadc mission, Eunice Luambia, said the trained troops and civilians will not find it easy because of expected challenges that include language barriers.
The exercise has also accommodated senior prison officers which is being conducted under the strategic theme Africa for Peace and Prosperity.
Prison officers from Malawi will for the first time also be deployed in peace-keeping errands.
Besides hosts Malawi, participating Sadc member States include Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Tanzania, Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
However, Seychelles, Madagascar and Mauritius are not represented.