Amani Africa II Prepares Standby Force to Meet Challenges

Amani Africa II Prepares Standby Force to Meet Challenges

Jacob Zuma, president of the Republic of South Africa, spoke during the closing ceremony of the Amani Africa II Field Training Exercise in Lohatla, Northern Cape, South Africa, in November 2015. His speech has been edited to fit this format.

Jacob Zuma,
president of the Republic of South Africa, spoke during the closing ceremony of the Amani Africa II Field Training Exercise in Lohatla, Northern Cape, South Africa, in November 2015. His speech has been edited to fit this format.

This exercise demonstrates that Africa is serious about peace and that the continent is also serious about investing in peace. We often proclaim that we want African solutions to African problems. Through this exercise, we are demonstrating that readiness to solve our problems on the continent.

We are indeed proud to proclaim today that Amani Africa II has been a tremendous success. We have taken a significant step toward bringing the African Standby Force and its Rapid Deployment Capability into operation. We have committed ourselves to silencing the guns on our continent by 2020, in alignment with our commitment to Agenda 2063. However, we still need to be prepared to effectively intervene in situations of crises to stabilize our countries when the need and the call arise.

The reality is that some countries on our beloved continent are still experiencing conflict, strife and war. The people of the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Mali, Libya, Somalia and eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo still live in the hope of achieving peace. We therefore have a duty as the leadership of the continent to assist sister countries to achieve peace. That is what makes this exercise so important.

It is particularly gratifying that the five regions of our continent were represented at this exercise through the regional economic communities and their brigades. SADC [Southern African Development Community], the Eastern Africa Standby Force, North Africa Regional Command, ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] and the volunteering nations of ACIRC [African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises] have all participated in this historic exercise, which is the first of its kind.

Apart from testing harmonization, this exercise has gone a long way toward strengthening cooperation between the African Union and the regional mechanisms for the purposes of future peacekeeping operations. This exercise is also unique in that it practiced the multidimensional nature of peace support operations, bringing together the military, police and civilian elements in an integrated approach. In this regard, we congratulate the countries and regions that have been involved in this exercise for availing the necessary resources and assets.

We need to do more to mobilize domestic resources to fund and capacitate our peace support operations. Identifying and raising our own funds will ensure that we enhance the sustainability of our missions while at the same time ensuring ownership and self-reliance. We must build further on this milestone as we move toward full operational capability.

This exercise has also contributed significantly to consolidating the positive relationships, not only between the different armed forces, police and civilian components that were involved, but also between the home countries of these forces. The opportunity presented by Amani Africa II will also improve relations between the regional economic communities and the African Union on the continental level.

Indeed, we are of the firm belief that the collective efforts of the military, police and civilian components will be invaluable in providing an effective and credible response to humanitarian crises on the continent. We congratulate all the forces once again for this success. We also commend the AU Commission for the leadership it provided at the strategic headquarters level in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

As we continue to build our capacity, we will also continue to cooperate with the United Nations and with international partners as we strive for continental and global peace.

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