It’s the dawn of a new era for the Central African Republic. The turmoil provides a great opportunity for South Africa, and Zuma will be foolish not to take it. Remington Steele is in the crossfire.
Jacob Zuma has said that it is important for South Africa to stay in the Central African Republic to fight a war for as long as possible. Speaking at a hasty press conference at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the South African president told reporters very clearly about his vague plans. Zuma is adamant that South Africa should keep enough of a military presence to drag the conflict out for as long as possible, although not a large enough presence to win.
The press conference was called to announce the deployment of more soldiers in the beleaguered African nation. Currently 187 troops remain on an airfield outside the capital Bangui, after about 3000 troops from the Seleka Rebel Alliance overran the CAR government forces and President Francois Bozize fled to safety in Cameroon. Thirteen South African soldiers died as they fought bravely to keep the onslaught at bay, but they were simply outnumbered. Their remains have been returned home.
The South African president claims that the country is being outdone by other African nations and that it needs to become more involved if it wants to lay claim to its status as African superpower. “Nigeria is fighting Boko Haram as well as supporting Mali against Islamic militants,” Zuma reportedly stated. “Kenya is fighting El Shabab in Somalia, with Uganda patrolling Mogadishu. Nobody is sure who’s fighting in the Congo, but we know many countries are in there scuffling. South Africa must not fall behind. It’s a matter of honour.”
Nigeria is strong challenger to South Africa’s superpower status. The West African country is Africa’s most populous, and it’s estimated that its economy will overtake that of South Africa by 2020. Like any respectable superpower, Nigeria has a niggling Islamic terrorist problem to deal with, as well as being committed to a war on foreign soil.
According to presidential spokesman, Mac Maharaj, it is unlikely that South Africa will have to face down Islam. “There is currently no Islamic threat in South Africa,” Maharaj affirmed. “As long as Hashim Amla keeps batting well and the Proteas keep winning on the cricket field there will be no Islamic threat in South Africa. We are very unfortunate in that regard.”
The ANC lead government is very confident, however, that it could reap some rewards on the war front. According to Zuma, the CAR situation provides a unique opportunity for South Africa to cement its superpower status. “It is important that we keep a military presence in Central Africa,” he told reporters. “Just enough to keep the conflict going, but not enough to win the war. Nobody remembers a battle if it’s over too quickly.”
Insiders claim that it is Zuma’s desire not to be outdone by the Apartheid regime. “PW Botha had his war in Angola, and Zuma wants his own war too. He’s just looking a little further north,” an anonymous source inside the cabinet disclosed to BN. “We must show those guys that anything they can do, we can do too.”
From the 1960s to the 1980s PW Botha’s National Party fought a long, bloody war in Angola, siding with the slightly less communist UNITA against the slightly more communist MPLA in that country’s civil war. Nobody really knows why South Africa was there, and those who claim to know don’t sound very certain. All that is known is that South Africa was there, fighting, even though it was denied for quite some time.
“Reasons don’t matter,” said Dawie Neethling, former colonel and military analyst. “All that matters is that war happens. War is its own reason. You don’t need an excuse, you only need a gun.” The former soldier turned freelance journalist claims that you don’t find war, you make it. “When you fight a war, they say you ‘make war’. If you want a war, make it. Then fight it. You must fight somebody, all the time. Nobody will take you seriously if you don’t fight.
“We want to remain Africa’s superpower,” added Zuma. “We are serious about this war. Who will doubt us then?”
Remington Steele was born at gunpoint on the Cape Flats. He spent his whole life following guns around, shooting them with his camera. He believes the pen is mightier than the sword, but he’s still not sure where the fire arm fits into the equation. When not reporting on a war he… Oh, hang on. There’s always a war going on.
- Graphic: SA in CAR (City Press)
- SAs role in the Battle of Bangui: The blood on Zumas hands (dailymaverick.co.za)
- SA troops killed in Central African Republic: Why, Mr President? (dailymaverick.co.za)
- South African counter-attack against Central African Republic rebels would be ‘complete madness’ (independent.co.uk)
- SA Soldiers died for peace
- CAR President flees