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  • Risks Facing South Africa

    In the more recent threads of this newly hatched Africa sub-forum I found an at times heated discussion on risks facing South Africa. In order to keep these threads devoted to their original subject, it would IMO a good idea to start a new thread devoted exclusively to this subject.

    As for myself, I have both a personal as well as a professional interest in trying to get a little bit deeper into this issue.

    So far (but I'm very willing to learn) I think main risks facing SA in the twenty-first century are domestic or transnational, such as:
    • (organized) crime and violence
    and 'soft' security concerns such as
    • health care (especially HIV/AIDS pandemic)
    • (illegal) migration
    • unemployment
    • investor confidence
    With regards to the military situation I think SA is on much safer ground, the SANDF being the best equipped and trained military in sub-Saharan Africa, with loads of operational experience which is kept institutional though training.
    I would value your thoughts here.
    BoRG

    You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

  • #2
    I agree with all of the above.

    Comment


    • #3
      Agree with your items.

      I would like to expand the HIV/AIDS which has a growing impact on the nature and conduct of armed conflict in and outside of Africa.

      S. Africa's HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in general is about 21.5% (CIA 2003 est.). Many of the african countries with high population prevalence rates have even higher rates within their military: three to four times as much. A 2009 estimate of HIV prevalence rate within the South African Army is 60%. IIRC, Defense Intelligence Est. in 2002 had the Angolan and Democratic Republic of Congo 40-60%, and Zimbabwe/ Malawi 70-75%.

      These armies have become a high-risk group for the transmission of HIV/AIDS and certainly becomes a concern outside of Africa when they serve on UN peacekeeping forces. But more alarming is how the virus is used as a weapon of war.

      The HIV/AIDS pandemic diminishes the operational efficiency of many African armed forces. These high rates are reguiring additional resources for recruitment and training, as well as demands on healthcare support, to replace those who fall ill or die; deaths that are creeping up the chain of command and in specialized and technically skilled staffs are not easily nor quickly replaced; and hinders carrying out duties due to absenteeism and reduced morale.

      As a weapon of war, the HIV/AIDS has provided psychological and biological weapons through the deliberate targeting of civilians and the widespread use of rape which has been employed systematically in Liberia, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. Some African armies have formed HIV/AIDS units.

      That's a quick, general overview. S. Africa is not to the weapons of war aspect, but the first couple of efficiency issues are relevant.
      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

      Comment


      • #4
        Image

        Thats the biggest risk imo. Look how uch time I spend on his forum an elsewhere promoting SA, and people refuse to listen to the good news. Now I am a naturally optimistic person, but I prefer to be proved wrong than a pessimist who is proven right.

        USA is held as the land where you can make your dreams come true. You have the american dream. Not everybody attains that dream do they, but nonetheless, the US is seen as the land of opportunity.

        If that could become the image that Africa is seen in, then we could really put the accelerator on development. So how do we change that image? Many things need to be done correctly, but most importantly, people need to change their perceptions of the continent and SA.

        If you tell your kids that they are stupid, what will become of them, by and large? I have worked in large businesses for most of my life, and to get the most out of your people, you need to expect the best of them - they very seldom fail your expectations, and that is what people need to do about SA. Yes, we must also change many things, but if people stopped expecting us to fail, then it would make the task that much easier. Get involved and make a difference, not make a noise about how terrible things are here. Very seldom do you here or see how bad the USA is if you live outside of it, but it is not all perfect, and yet people believe in it.

        Militarily, I see no threats to us down here, for the simple reason that most people are sick and tired of war and killing. We want to make a future for ourselves, but peacekeeping is something that we are getting better at.

        Economically, we do well - have a look at the indicators for 2009 during the recession and you will see that we had the third best performing currency in the world, not of emerging markets. Our fiscal policies are correct and controlled.

        Image is the thing.

        Comment


        • #5
          MM, a very astute observation and I cannot but agree that image and perception are all important.

          Likely not necessary, but perhaps I should go through the motions to put your mind at rest: I do not want to do Africa bashing in this thread.
          I consider myself a friend of SA and intend to remain one.
          This however should not prevent us to discuss realistic assessments of risks facing South Africa.
          My native Holland, the USA, they are all great countries, but they face problems too and these should be discussed, without meaning to degrade them.
          I intend to do the same thing in this thread
          BoRG

          You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

          Comment


          • #6
            Major no problems and not necessary to explain. I am not naive enough to believe that my country does not have warts and all, and am too well aware of the many problems facing us - I do not try and gloss over them either, just try to spend more time on the positives, and trust me, when the positives are not that many, you sort of get hung up on them.

            Whilst sitting at home last night I thought that perhaps the best way to explain life here is to give an example of my family's day, so to speak, so forgive me my moment of me.

            I usually do not take my kids to school as I get to the office generally about 06H30, so my wife does the kids run, my daughter in high school gets a lift with a neighbor to her different school. Should I take my boys to school so early, I wait and make sure that they are in the school grounds and surrounded by people and do not leave them alone.

            I get to travel a lot in my job around the southern part of the continent, and this includes driving and flying. Should I drive, I can get petrol for my car and pay for it with my card pretty much anywhere, unless it is late at night going through some small towns where cash is still king. If I fly, I get a rental car at my destinations and spend more time driving around - the rental being a good car, not an ox wagon.

            I usually start coaching rugby at about 17H00 until 18H00, from where I go home to my family. My wife does extra murals for the school and spends the day carting kids around and others who do not have wheels to get to the shops etc, or cleaning and managing the house. I have just installed an armed reaction unit alarm in my house as they had a special, so I got it discounted.

            At home I have PC's with wireless connectivity and satellite TV, a pool and a husky cross that loves the kids - she is useless as a guard dog and is too friendly. I have a rather large home and when I am on the road, my wife gets scared staying by herself so usually has friends over.

            On weekends I can sit on the banks of the Vaal river with a cold beer in my hand whilst eating great food, or I can take my dinghy for a sail on the Vaal dam, or I can watch a movie at the cinema, catch a rock concert, visit the Miltary museum in town (Joburg), go to the giant malls in town, flea markets, motor sport, air shows etc etc etc.

            I do not carry a weapon, drive in an armoured car or wear flak jackets on my travels. I do not have a bodyguard either.

            My reason for putting this down is to point out how mundane our lives are for the majority of us down here. A bit off the topic I know.

            Let me name a few concerns.

            Medical costs are prohibitive.
            Unemployment is too high - mid twenties iirc.
            Whites do struggle to get jobs and so need to be really good at what they are paid to do, most times.
            Corruption is prevalent.
            Crime is violent.
            Winter is too cold.
            Durban is too far from me.
            People are too negative.
            Cars are too pricey.
            No public transport unless you use unsafe taxi industry.

            Anyway, thats my two cents worth.

            Comment


            • #7
              I know only one guy from SA and he's a "whitey" so to say.

              He married a german who I know and is now doing quite good as a lawyer in an international company. He learned german very fast and speaks it very good now.

              When i think of him I can only agree to what MM said. He believed that in SA he would have had a hard time as a white both professionally and also for his german wife in public life. Cant say if that is right or just an image problem but basically he turned his back and walked away or was made to walk away, depending on where you want to place the blame.
              Ha, wie so stolz und hehr
              Wirft über Land und Meer
              Weithin der deutsche Aar
              Flammenden Blick.

              Comment


              • #8
                Agree with Maj S, no denigration intended, just wanted to shape the context of a military somewhat unique from an American experience.

                As I understand it, with the end of apartheid and the establishment of majority rule, former military, black homelands forces, and ex-opposition forces were integrated into the South African National defense Force (SANDF). As of 2003 the integration process was considered complete. I would be interested in MM assessment of success.

                South Africa has placed military along its border to apprehend thousands of Zimbabweans fleeing economic dysfunction and political prosecution. Also, as of January 2007, South Africa also supports large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Burundi, and other states in Africa totaling about 85,000 plus. How has this worked? How do the South African taxpayers feel about this?

                South Africa also managed a dispute with Nambia over the location of the boundary in the Orange River. I have not seen much detail on it.

                South Africa certainly seems involved with its neighbors and other countries.

                Is there any reconsideration by South Africa of having backed away from nuclear weapons?

                What is the South Africans perceptions of these security issues?
                Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                  As I understand it, with the end of apartheid and the establishment of majority rule, former military, black homelands forces, and ex-opposition forces were integrated into the South African National defense Force (SANDF). As of 2003 the integration process was considered complete. I would be interested in MM assessment of success.
                  In the mid eighties, our Ou Krokodil (Old Crocodile) - our conservative, idiot of a PM PW Botha (Rubicon speech and all) boasted that our military might could put him in Cairo by evening. We had one of the best small defence forces in the world, based very much along Israeli lines. Our indoctrination was complete and we feared Die Swart en Rooi Gevaar (The Black and Red danger) as much as you guys feared the reds. The fact that during the early nineties some extremists groups tried very hard to subvert the course of negotiations is not hard to understand. What is perhaps harder to understand is that the generals in the army and freedom forces handled the integration of all previous enemies so well. Yes, there were incidents, but they were severely dealt with to prevent a conflagration.

                  Our soldiers did have a problem with severe AIDS at one stage, but to be honest I have got out of touch with that issue. Many friends have left the armed services now so my info is slack, but I assume that it must still be an issue. I know that many people have complained that our effectiveness has dropped, but generally speaking from what I read and hear is that we are still the best quality troops on the continent. In fact, or Recces were exposed on some reality show a time back as the toughest training that people can endure, and apparently their techniques broke the most amount of people - I did not watch the show, so this is hearsay, but I do know that they were a formidable force up to the late nineties and I would be very surprised if their effectiveness has waned.

                  Regular troops went on strike a few months back due to poor wages - you do not get rich by risking your life in our army, or any that I know of - and our minister of defence came down hard on the strikers, a good indicator that we have sensible govt perhaps?

                  The foreign issue is a big one here and many of you may remember the rise of xenophobia a few years ago. The Nigerians are organised criminals (generally - I know a few who are not) who peddle drugs on the streets of Hillbrow and are not adverse to kidnapping the users wife, girlfriend or kids to get the money owed out of them. They are also violent and into many rackets. The foreigners come here and are prepared to work for far less than our citizens which leads to these types of confrontations, particularly the Zimbos and Mozambicans, but we have Somalis (a large contingent) and Nigerians among others. Remember that SA is seen as the land of milk and honey on this continent.

                  I believe that we have been one of the few countries around the world that dismantled our nuclear weapons in a transparent manner in the early nineties. We have a nuclear power station outside Cape Town -no coal there so to get power to them is costly from up here - and we are perhaps going to build a pebble bed reactor in Port Elizabeth sometime, although it is currently on hold due to the recession. Pelindaba is our nuclear facility outside Pretoria and does research along those lines, but we do not have any nuclear weapons anymore.

                  Like I said, most people here do not really see warfare as a threat - I do believe that we could take out any neighbors forces without breaking into a sweat, and our focus has shifted to peacekeeping, which many people are against as it costs us money which people would prefer to see pumped into development. Most people focus on security at home and the family - most of our population lives in townships, where crime is far higher and more violent than us whites experience in our neighborhoods, with the result that our new chief of police, who has a very good track record, is trying desperately to bring the crime rate down, which it has been doing for a few years now.

                  Most people here, including the Blacks, see Mugabe as the biggest threat to our development and we have endless jokes at his expense, black and white. I usually open up my presentations with a quip that in SA anybody can have an opinion, as we are not like Zimbabwe and not a dictatorship, which always breaks the ice nicely. Zuma is currently there trying yet again to mediate the situation, as Tsvangarai has basically been stopped in his tracks. I fear that he, Tsvangarai is yet another Mugabe and will go down a similar path. I say that because since he got into the power sharing govt we have heard very little from him. I may, and I hope I am, be very wrong.

                  Zuma is seen as a bit of an idiot who spends more time bedding women than running the country, so has alarmed a lot of people here. He is a politician of note though, and that will perhaps be his downfall - you cannot please everybody all the time, which is what he tries to do - I think in the same vein as BO. Mbeki was a power grabber very much in the mould of Mugabe and others, again IMO, and for those of you who followed his fall from grace may recall that it was because he did not want to relinquish his position as leader. The ANC has been based on democratic principles since its inception, so he ruffled many feathers and pissed off the wrong people. He was also not a people person, unlike Zuma, and so alienated many followers. He had also promoted his staunch followers into positions of leadership and was leading us into a dictatorship type of govt, so I extend thanks to the ANC for sticking to its democratic ideas - and no, I do not vote ANC.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Food for thought all, and I would like to reflect a bit more on certain issues mentioned
                    Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                    South Africa has placed military along its border to apprehend thousands of Zimbabweans fleeing economic dysfunction and political prosecution. Also, as of January 2007, South Africa also supports large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Burundi, and other states in Africa totaling about 85,000 plus. How has this worked? How do the South African taxpayers feel about this?
                    Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post

                    South Africa also managed a dispute with Nambia over the location of the boundary in the Orange River. I have not seen much detail on it.



                    South Africa certainly seems involved with its neighbors and other countries.
                    • I think it is safe to state that South Africa currently faces no external military thread. Situation obviously was very different during the Apartheid period when there were regular incursions across all its borders. IMO South Africa's prime external threat is cross-border crime: small weapons and drugs trafficking and growing illegal immigration. As I understand, budget constraints have forced the SANDF to reduce its deployment of soldiers for border control and crime prevention form 19 companies to seven. This will become now the responsibility of the police.
                    Originally posted by MeenMutha View Post
                    Like I said, most people here do not really see warfare as a threat - I do believe that we could take out any neighbors forces without breaking into a sweat, and our focus has shifted to peacekeeping, which many people are against as it costs us money which people would prefer to see pumped into development.
                    • South African's participation in regional peacekeeping operations and conflict resolution I consider a grow market. I find it interesting that AFAIK there has been no participation in peacekeeping operations outside of Africa (Burundi, DRC, Comoros. NB that these are the countries which RNA indicated most asylum seekers come from), meaning that an eye has been kept on well understood national self interest while doing good work, although even that may be open to debate what good there is exactly for the country for participating in peace keeping operations. At the same time I can imagine that there is growing concern at home about military overstretch, doing more with less.
                    • South Africa has been temporarily member of the UN Security Council from 2007 till 2009; this too might have led to an increase in the feeling to be obliged to do more for peacekeeping and conflict resolution, especially in Africa. At the same time this would have been a strong argument to give a permanent seat in the Security Council to an African state
                    • Navy. Continuing to look outside of the envelope: elsewhere in these forums there is ample attention for the spread of piracy in African waters. As South Africa has the only effective navy in the region, if not the continent, I can envisage an increasing role for the SA navy re maritime cooperation.
                    Last edited by Colonel Sennef; 19 Mar 10, 14:57.
                    BoRG

                    You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MajorSennef View Post
                      In the more recent threads of this newly hatched Africa sub-forum I found an at times heated discussion on risks facing South Africa. In order to keep these threads devoted to their original subject, it would IMO a good idea to start a new thread devoted exclusively to this subject.

                      As for myself, I have both a personal as well as a professional interest in trying to get a little bit deeper into this issue.

                      So far (but I'm very willing to learn) I think main risks facing SA in the twenty-first century are domestic or transnational, such as:
                      • (organized) crime and violence
                      and 'soft' security concerns such as
                      • health care (especially HIV/AIDS pandemic)
                      • (illegal) migration
                      • unemployment
                      • investor confidence
                      With regards to the military situation I think SA is on much safer ground, the SANDF being the best equipped and trained military in sub-Saharan Africa, with loads of operational experience which is kept institutional though training.
                      I would value your thoughts here.
                      European football fans in about 12 weeks.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by copenhagen View Post
                        European football fans in about 12 weeks.

                        We apparently have that covered, but I worry about the English fans.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MeenMutha View Post





                          We apparently have that covered, but I worry about the English fans.
                          Indeed you have. IIRC there was a comprehensive joint exercise, name and other details elude me at the moment of all SA security forces to prepare and train for all sort of contingencies during this event

                          Originally posted by copenhagen View Post
                          European football fans in about 12 weeks.


                          I think as a working solution we can safely group them under the risks:
                          • crime and violence
                          • migration
                          Last edited by Colonel Sennef; 19 Mar 10, 14:58.
                          BoRG

                          You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You - Leon Trotski, June 1919.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            To Maj S's point on past threats--Back in the Cold War, the South Africans were concerned about Soviet intervention in their country. They were so interested that they published my article, "Soviet Mechanized Airborne Forces" in their monthly "Armed Forces" journal, Sept 1985.
                            Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The 2009 CIA World Factbook agrees with Maj S on the transnational crime.

                              "Trafficking in persons is on their watch list. South Africa is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation...."

                              "Illicit drugs: transshipment center for heroin, hashish, and cocaine, as well as a major cultivator of marijuana...world's largest market for illicit methaqualone, usually imported illegally from India through various east African countries, but increasingly producing its own synthetic drugs for domestic consumption...."
                              Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                              Comment

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