Motlanthe: No more SA troops for CAR
Motlanthe was responding to a question from the Democratic Alliance (DA)'s parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko who wanted him to confirm or deny reports that South Africa would redeploy troops to the Central African Republic (CAR).
"With a very straight face, clear conscience I deny that the government is planning to send troops to the Central African Republic," said Motlanthe to loud applause from all political parties.
Motlanthe said South Africa's position in relation to the situation prevailing in the CAR takes cognisance of the recent developments and that there is no elected government in that country but a transitional council.
"So our position is consistent with that of the African Union and we underscore that in order to achieve lasting peace, prosperity and normality in the CAR, we will need Africa's cooperation and contribution from the international community."
Motlanthe defended President Jacob Zuma from accusations that the president didn't inform Parliament in appropriate detail about reasons for the CAR deployment.
Motlanthe said there is a laid-out procedure, well known to leaders of political parties represented in Parliament, of how troops are to be deployed beyond the borders – that the president would speak to each leader of each party and also inform in writing the speaker of the National Assembly.
"And that is the procedure the president followed in this case," said Motlanthe. The DA's David Maynier chipped in saying: "The deputy president has shown himself here today to be a master, in the most gentlemanly manner of zigzagging his way around follow-up questions."
Plea from Eccas
After a number of questions from MPs, Motlanthe explained to Parliament about how CAR has never had a democratic change of government, and that since 1960 all its leaders took office by means of coup d'états.
"The United Nations and the African Union are tired of the coups in that country and are pleading and calling everybody to support processes that can stabilise that country and lay down a foundation for democracy."
The task of the transitional council is to restore order and prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections within an 18-month time frame, he said.
There were media reports earlier this week that a decision on whether South African soldiers would be redeployed to the Central African Republic would be made later this week.
The Sunday Times reported that if troops were sent, they would be heading to the troubled country as peace-keepers this time, contributing to a 2 000-strong Central Africa Multinational Force. The force would support the transitional CAR government.
Zuma told reporters at the second summit convened by the Economic Community of Central African States [Eccas] in Chad last week that he had received a "passionate plea" from Eccas leaders to send South African National Defence Force soldiers back to the CAR..