The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is set to hold naval exercises off its east coast with Russian and Chinese warships next month.
According to the statement released on Thursday last week, the event known as Exercise MOSI will take place in Durban and Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, from 17 to 27 February 2023. Reads the statement:
This will be the second time such an exercise is taking place involving the three naval forces with the first one held in November 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Exercise coordinators have concluded all necessary coordination and preparation arrangements for this exercise during virtual planning conferences held at the beginning of December 2022.
This year’s Exercise MOSI is expected to see 350 SANDF personnel from various arms of services and divisions participating alongside their Russian and Chinese counterparts with the aim of sharing operational skills and knowledge.
South Africa has faced criticism over its plans to host the People’s Liberation Army Navy from China and the Russian Federal Navy.
In response to the criticism, South Africa’s ministry of defence and military veterans on Monday said the naval exercise is an opportunity to strengthen existing relations that exist between SA, Russia and China. Ministerial spokesperson Cornelius Monama said:
We wish to state categorically that SA, like any independent and sovereign state, has a right to conduct its foreign relations in line with its own diplomatic relations and national interests.
SA sees Exercise Mosi II as an opportunity to contribute towards further strengthening the strong bonds that exist between South Africa, Russia and China.
Contrary to the assertions by our critics, SA is not abandoning its neutral position on the Russian-Ukraine conflict.
We remain firm in our view that multilateralism and dialogue are keys to unlocking sustainable international peace.
We continue to urge both parties to engage in dialogue as a solution to the current conflict.
… In recent months, we have had engagements with counterparts in the UK, the People’s Republic of China, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, to mention but a few.
There was no hype about any of these countries, especially with regard to the US wherein we held an even longer exercise, known as Exercise Shared Accord in KwaZulu-Natal last year regarding our military health capabilities.
Defence and military veterans minister Thandi Modise said Exercise Mosi II will benefit all three participating nations. She said:
The envisaged exercise will benefit all countries involved through interoperability of the naval systems, joint disaster systems management enhancement, maritime cooperation and anti-piracy exercises.