South Africa's Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says there has been "an increase in conflict on the African continent" and defence ministers of the Southern African Development Community are debating ways of dealing with this.
Speaking at a media briefing in Sandton, Johannesburg,attended by Digital Journal, Sisulu said SADC's Inter-State Committee for Defence and Security (ISDS) was meeting in preparation for an upcoming heads-of-state summit in February.
The ISDS was discussing ways to tackle issues related to increased conflict in parts of Africa, as well as the only conflict situation in the SADC region, piracy off East Africa. A full media release will be issued when the ISDS meeting finishes, on January 21, 2012.
The Maritime Executive website reported a decrease in pirate attacks worldwide, with the majority of those occurring being off West Africa and East Africa.
The SADC concern is with the area between Mozambique and Madagascar, currently patrolled by a South African Navy frigate and maritime patrol aircraft of the South African Air Force (SAAF), staging out of Pemba in northern Mozambique.
Sisulu told the briefing she had taken time out from the ISDS meeting to address media reports and issues of concern to the South African public. Of particular concern was a report by a local newspaper claiming the country's president, Jacob Zuma, wanted a “warship”, described in the article as an “aircraft carrier”. Sisulu said:
“I was appalled when I saw the story because I know nothing about the matter.”
„There is no truth in that.”
It is true that discussions were held in the Navy about getting a „strategic sealift” capability, with medium-sized ships able to carry a minimum of six medium helicopters (like the SAAF Oryx).
This would have been a smaller version of the British Royal Navy's „Commando Carriers”, like the HMS Ocean, which can board at least 18 helicopters and a battalion of Royal Marines or Royal Marine Commandos. The US and other countries, like France and Russia, have even bigger „LHS” or Landing Platform, Ship-type carriers.
Landing Platform Helicopter (LHS) of the Royal Navy, HMS Ocean.
The idea, formalised as Project Millennium, was scrapped in 2008 due to budget constraints.
SADC is made up of Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho,the island states of Madagascar and Mauritius, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, the Seychelles islands, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.