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South Africa

Volume 458: debated on Monday 26 March 2007

6. What support his Department has allocated to peace support training in South Africa in 2007-08. (129300)

Building peace support capacity will remain a high priority for the MOD in support of the UK’s overall approach to conflict prevention across sub-Saharan Africa during 2007 and 2008. In South Africa, the nine-man British peace support team, which is 50 per cent. funded by the South Africa national defence force, will continue to provide training and advisory support in the areas of military education, peacekeeping, doctrine development, training and sustainment. In addition, the team co-ordinates UK-funded attendance of South African personnel on related courses in the UK and across Africa. We have allocated £1.3 million to support this effort in 2007-08.

I congratulate the armed forces on the vital work that they are doing in that area. Does my right hon. Friend agree that military capacity must be aligned to political will in South Africa? As Zimbabwe spirals ever closer to anarchy, does he agree that South Africa must provide regional leadership for intervention and conflict prevention in that country?

My hon. Friend asks about a very important aspect. With international allies, we have been trying to get regional groupings together, with the support of the African nations. In the west of Africa there is a well functioning organisation in place, ECOWAS—the Economic Community of West African States. SADC—the Southern African Development Community—in the south is somewhat limited because of Zimbabwe’s presence within it. There is a similar initiative in the east of Africa. My hon. Friend is right. It is about building not just the military capacity of the African nations, but their capacity to govern outwith their own area. As ever, there is the strapline of African solutions to African problems. We will continue to help wherever we can to meet those problems as they arise, as part of international coalitions in friendship with those African nations.