‘Africa its own liberator’

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Southern Times on Saturday, Angolan Defence minister Kundi Paihama said it would be ridiculous for African countries to expect any meaningful solutions from the same elements that were restocking arsenal to warring factions including irresponsible and ruthless rebel groups that usually target hapless women and children.

“The same people that want to intervene in the crisis are our enemies, how do you expect someone who sells guns to rebels in Africa to bring the solution to wars that are taking place? They are the abusers and they know themselves, we should not sleep, come on let us open our eyes,” said Paihama a war veteran during one of Africa’s longest and bloodiest wars that lasted for close to three decades when Angola government MPLA troops battled it out with the UNITA movement.

Until the war ended three years ago when rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was shot dead, UNITA sustained the fighting due to constant supplies of arms from the western countries.

Paihama said the west would not want the wars to end in Africa because of the arms business interests.

Paihama urged African countries especially those from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to unite against external forces harbouring ulterior motives.

He said SADC was moving in the right direction economically as well as militarily in order to ensure that peace and stability prevail in the region.

On the decision to have the SADC standby force inauguration postponed to next year’s SADC Summit instead of the one taking place this August, the minister said the region was not yet prepared.

Defence and Security ministers from the SADC member countries that met in Windhoek last week resolved that inauguration of the standby force should not take place at this year’s summit in Maseru, Lesotho slated to start on August 9.

Paihama said it would be pointless for the force to be inaugurated while there were no finances and logistics to support its existence. At the close of the meeting which was also attended by about 300 military, intelligence, police and prisons officers Namibia’s Defence minister Major General Charles Namoloh said each member country was supposed to contribute financially but so far only a few countries had met the obligation.

He said the standby force should be operational by 2010.

“This has practical and logistical reasons’we will put all procedures in place to get it operational earlier than 2010,” said Namoloh.

Member countries signed a SADC Mutual Defence Pact on August 26, 2003. Namibia is the current chair for the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.

At the just ended Windhoek meeting it was agreed that each member country comes up with intelligence early warning systems, which in turn should feed the information to the Regional Early Warning Centre at SADC Headquarters in Gaborone.

Once in place SADC standby force will be used to troubleshoot or intervene in any trouble spot within the region as well as join forces with other such regional establishments under the African Union (AU) in line with the AU standby force.

August 2006
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