Commonwealth Peacekeeping Assistance Group (South Africa)

International Information

International Operation Name: Commonwealth Peacekeeping Assistance Group (South Africa)

International Mission Name: Commonwealth Peacekeeping Assistance Group (South Africa) (CPAG-SA)

Mandating Organization: Commonwealth

Region Name: Africa

Location: South Africa

Mission Date: 1 February 1994 - 9 April 1994

Canadian Task Force Name Mission Statement: To advise on the training of the South African National Peacekeeping Force.

Mission Notes: The origins of apartheid in South Africa can be traced back to the South Africa Act of 1909, which created an all-white parliament. Apartheid started to take a more concrete form after the Second World War, as laws were enacted that restricted the rights of black and coloured peoples. Violence associated with these laws reached international attention in March 1960 with the Sharpeville Massacre.

International pressure, including sanctions, instituted as a result of these repressive acts and laws slowly took effect upon white South Africa’s economy. The African National Congress, formed in 1912 to champion the cause of freedom and dignity of black South Africans, had been active since 1949 with boycotts, mass resistance, and strikes. In the 1980s, community organizations formed across black South Africa, leading to a mass movement opposing apartheid. In the face of these and other sources of pressure, the white government of South Africa began to take steps designed to provide a transition to a fully representational government.

On 14 September 1991 representatives of twenty-seven political parties, interest groups and national and homeland governments signed the National Peace Accord. As part of the Accord, a multi-racial Transitional Executive Council was created to serve as a temporary executive authority until democratic elections could be held. Despite the agreement, peace in South Africa was not at hand. The African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party were still involved in a civil war in KwaZulu and Natal provinces, which had killed more than 10,000 over the previous decade. The Zulu population was split between these two parties, while the Inkatha party was itself split over leadership.

The National Peacekeeping Force (NPKF) was created as a 3150-member unit to be deployed to areas of violence or civil unrest, or where the Transitional Executive Council (TEC) deemed it necessary to protect lives and property. The NPKF base was at the De Brug Training Camp near Blomfontein for three battalions and one camp near Cape Town for a fourth. The NPKF was a multi-racial unit formed from military members of the South African Defence Force, the uMkhontho weSizwe (the African National Congress’ armed wing) and the Transkei (one of the “black” homelands), as well as South African Police, and the Transkei, Bophuthatsuma, Venda and Ciskei (TBVC) defence and police forces. Each NPKF platoon was composed of members from each of these forces.

Elections for South Africa were slated for 29 April 1994. To ensure fairness, the TEC requested the United Nations to provide international observers, which subsequently developed into the United Nations Observer Mission in South Africa (UNOMSA). The Commonwealth (Commonwealth Observer Mission in South Africa - COMSA), and the European Union and Organization of African Unity also maintained missions in South Africa at the request of that nation. To combat violence, the NPKF was to be deployed to areas of concern.

The TEC requested in early February 1994 that the Commonwealth provide a Commonwealth Peacekeeping Assistance Group (CPAG) to assist in the training of the NPKF. CPAG would be responsive to the TEC for training; however, the operations and employment of CPAG members was ontrolled by COMSA.

Initially, the CPAG was to consist of sixteen army and police personnel; however, this was later expanded to a total of thirty-three. The goal was to create a unified force capable of deploying by the end of March 1994. The CPAG would advise South African personnel on how and what to train the NPKF. This included crowd control, electoral procedures, maintenance of law and order, mediation, riot prevention, and use of minimum force. Prior to the arrival of the CPAG members, the NPKF was, to quote a newspaper report, “in shambles”. There was a lack of discipline, and former South African Defence Force (SADF) volunteers reportedly refused to obey orders from NPKF personnel. Originally, the SADF had wanted six months to train the force; however, due to delays in negotiations, this was reduced to seven weeks. It was this environment that the CPAG encountered. Most of the personnel arrived around 21 February and were almost immediately thrust into a training role. Bringing the NPKF up to international standards took longer than expected. Instead of being ready by the end of March, it was considered to be only partly ready for deployment by mid-April.

Canadian Forces (CF) Information (Commonwealth Peacekeeping Assistance Group (South Africa))

Canadian Task Force Name Abbreviation: CPAG-SA

CF Mission/Operation Notes: The Canadian Forces provided two majors to the CPAG, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police two members. After conducting the initial training and the test exercises, there was little for the Canadian members to do. One of the CF officers returned home in April while the other remained in South Africa as a member of the Canadian Security Liaison Team, returning to Canada in May. The latter Team provided security assistance and advice to the bilateral election mission set up by Canada and South Africa.

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