Much is aflutter with reports that the SAS Drakensburg, a South African naval vessel has parked somewhere off the coast of Côte d'Ivoire. Ecowas (Economic Community of West African States) – kind of the equivalent of, and forever in a pissing contest with, the SADC (Southern African Development Community) – is “miffed” and says this is going to complicate the peace process which is due to take place in the Côte d'Ivoire in the near future.
Denials from the spokesperson for SA defense says no military aid (including the boat) is due to be given to either Ouattara (the chap who actually won the election) or Gbagbo, the dicktator who refuses to leave power after being voted out.
Two stories seem to have come out, though.
News24 reports: “The defence ministry said a naval ship had been deployed to West Africa as part of a training exercise, although it is ready for any "instruction and assistance" required by its foreign ministry.
"The department of defence confirms that the SA Naval ship, the SAS Drakensberg has been on a periodical routine training cruise along the West Coast of Africa since early January 2011 to train junior naval officers," a statement said. “
So the ship would have been there anyway?
The Mail and Guardian, however, reports: “The chairperson of West Africa's regional bloc on Tuesday criticised South Africa for sending a warship to the region amid Côte d'Ivoire's political crisis, but the South African government maintained it had sent the vessel as a negotiating venue.”
So is it training (in which case it would have been there either way), or is it there as a negotiating venue (in which case it has probably been sent there recently)?
Who knows? But something certainly smells rotten in the Coast of Ivory.
PS: It’s worth pointing out that the SAS Drakensburg is not a navy ship full of guns and crap. It is a supply vessel – designed to replenish ships that are built to blow crap up.