The governments of Uganda and South Africa on Firday held a one-day Inaugural Joint Defence Committee (JDC) meeting at Protea Skyz Hotel in Kampala.
The meeting focused on reviewing the areas of cooperation in defence as provided for by the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the two countries in 2012. The JDC meeting was a follow-up of an earlier Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) meeting held in July 2022, in Kampala, in which it was agreed that the inaugural JDC meeting is held in Kampala.
In his keynote address, the head of the JDC delegation, Uganda delegation, and Chairman of the joint meeting, James K. Mutabaazi, the Under Secretary of Air Force in the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs, stated that this was the first-ever JDC meeting under the framework of cooperation in defence between Uganda and South Africa.
He explained that on the November 9, 2012 a Memorandum of cooperation in defence was signed between the two counties in Pretoria and that under Article 2 of the MOU a body known as the JDC was formed with an obligation to meet at least once every 24 months.
He reminded delegates that cooperation between Uganda and South Africa dated as far back as the 1980s in places like Kaweweta. He reiterated that JDC is a vehicle to implement areas of cooperation especially in training, exchange of staff, intelligence information sharing and counter-terrorism, and defence industries, among others.
The South African JDC head of delegation and Co-Chairman of the meeting, Maj Gen S G Hlongwa noted that the South African National Defence Force (SNADF) was grateful for the hospitality accorded to them. He added that the history of South Africa in Uganda started many years ago after the UN Resolution 435 (Namibia) in 1978, which, in the interest of workable peace efforts, required South Africa to withdraw its forces from Namibia and transfer power to the people of Namibia and for the ANC to leave Angola.
The ANC was to become homeless. In 1989, President Museveni decided to provide a home for the military wing of the ANC. This formed then, the ever-relevant many years importance of continuing bilateral relations for the good of the peoples of the two sister countries.“The enemy we are both facing is the same: terrorism. Uganda has not been spared of such attacks just like us. We, therefore, have to ensure whatever is deliberated is actually implemented. We should not be good at talking in meetings but very poor at implementation,” Maj Gen Hlongwa emphasised.
He asked the delegations to come out with a plan of action for the implementation of the agreed positions. Both delegations reviewed areas of cooperation and suggested a number of adjustments to the draft document. These adjustments were made in areas that included training, intelligence information sharing/counter-terrorism, defence industries, and military medical services.
Other areas of cooperation included research and development, sports/culture, and disaster management. There were also new areas of cooperation that were added to the list for the first time viz; veteran affairs, National Military Museums (NMM), and Air Force matters. Presiding over the closing ceremony, the Chief of Defence Forces Gen Wilson Mbasu Mbadi thanked the JDC for considering the ToRs, and Rules of Procedures, and revising the areas of cooperation.
He asked for cooperation to fully implement areas that were enumerated and any other ones that will come to help in the improvement of the situation. He asked African countries to harness their synergies to cooperate or perish. The Chief of the South African National Defence Force (CSANDF) Gen Rudzani Maphwanya paid glowing tribute to Uganda and especially to President Museveni who gave the homeless ANC a home with their weapons after they were forced to leave Angola in the 1980s. “This is a gesture South Africans will never forget,” said Gen Maphwanya. The long day ended with a dinner treat for both delegations hosted by the CDF at Ndere Cultural Centre, Ntinda, in Kampala.