n Africa Conflict Monthly Monitor - South Africa as the dominant SADC military power - : Southern Africa - issue in focus

Volume 2013, Issue 06
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On 9 May 2013, the main military muscle behind the armed forces initiative of the Southern Africa Development Community Standby Force (SADC SF) was putting on a show to impress any opponents that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) might run into in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). SANDF troops were to be deployed in the DRC from mid-May 2013. Strafing the ground from the skies above Polokwane Air Force Base, camouflaged helicopter gunships also discharged air-to-ground missiles a pyrotechnical display intended to show the might of Southern Africa's most powerful army. Such a publicity exercise was effectively done before SANDF forces left South Africa. A similar exercise might well have been done when South African troops arrived in the DRC, but the explosions and weaponry would certainly alarm a Congolese population already unnerved by years of constant warfare. The use of old and new media allowed for such an exercise to be done thousands of kilometers away from its intended audience, the rebel groups of the DRC. African television broadcast services, including the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), whose reach extends throughout Southern Africa and into the DRC, screened the exercise in all its noisy panoply. Any rebels of the M-23 militia who may have missed the broadcast could catch videos posted on YouTube and the SANDF's own website.

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