The Naval Gymnasium Programme (NGP) and its Contribution to Developmental Peacekeeping

It was determined that the main causes of war in Africa are resource-based. The struggle is either for the control, access or exploitation of scarce resources. Economic wars are therefore predominantly the instigator and sustainer of conflict in Africa. Failure from the states to provide human security in addition gives rise to war economies that are sustained by continuous conflicts.

Traditional peacekeeping approaches however primarily focus on the disarmament and demobilisation of combatants, followed by a Peace Building and Development Phase at completion of the Peacekeeping Operation. This delay between disarmament and development is argued to be one of the main reasons why current peacekeeping operations in Africa fail, due to the inability to absorb combatants into the formal economy and to dismantle the war economy. A new and innovative approach to peacekeeping has been formulated and is currently debated in many circles. This concept is Developmental Peacekeeping. Developmental Peacekeeping was formulated after it was identified that traditional peacekeeping approaches did not address the main causes of conflicts in Africa. Developmental Peacekeeping collapses the peace-enforcement, peacekeeping and peace building into one process. This requires the military and civilian component of the peacekeeping operation to be deployed simultaneously, irrespective of cease-fire agreements.

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Excellent camaraderie being displayed by the recruits during the 2.4km run.
(Photo: Seaman M Venter)

Developmental Peacekeeping requires the deployment of multi-disciplinary teams in the target country to conduct a macro-economic assessment. These teams could consist of Economists, Security Experts, Engineers, Public and Development Managers and Town Planners. The deployment of civilians in a war torn country however carries a significant risk. It is therefore required to provide these individuals with the necessary training that will equip them to operate in these countries. 

The pilot project to provide training to this new type of peace builders are currently conducted at the Naval Training Unit in Saldanha, as part of the Naval Gymnasium Programme. (Formerly known as the Military Skills Development Programme (MSD))

Currently 57 Built Environment Graduates from the Department of Public Works are participating in the Naval Gymnasium Programme at SAS SALDANHA. These learners will be the first individuals that are trained for Developmental Peacekeeping. The Department of Public Works are therefore the first government department that will be able to respond to a call for civilians to participate in peacekeeping missions through the deployment of multi-disciplinary teams. After being afforded the Military Maritime Certificate for Seaman, which is accredited by DIDTETA (120 credits on the National Qualifications Framework), these individuals will be deployed in the Department of Public Works. These members will in addition join the Naval Reserves at completion of their military training to ensure that they enjoy the best training and development for their future roles as peacekeepers in Africa.

It is envisaged that other Government Departments will follow in the footsteps of the Department of Public Works to use this opportunity to equip members with basic skills, as well as to develop the capacity to contribute towards the objectives of NEPAD through Developmental Peacekeeping.

In addition to the contribution towards developmental peacekeeping, the training programme at SAS SALDANHA contributes towards the National Skills Development Strategy of the Department of Labour, through the provision of increased skills development on the Naval Gymnasium Learnership programme to larger numbers of the labour force. The increased number of learners trained at Saldanha creates a mechanism for job and capacity creation, as well as the potential for increasing service delivery in participating Government Departments.

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Being taught the proper way is of much importance to perform at the level that is expected.
(Photo: Seaman M Venter)

With the appropriate political endorsement and support, Developmental Peacekeeping could become the new methodology for peacekeeping missions on the African continent, and South Africa could become the leaders in peacekeeping missions in the African Union and the world, above the current United Nations dominant leadership.

NOTE: KEY INFORMATION WAS DRAWN FROM THE PAPER PRESENTED BY THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HEALTH, MRS N. C. MADLALA-ROUTLEDGE AT THE AFRICAN DEFENCE SUMMIT 2004, THAT TOOK PLACE ON 13 JULY 2004, AT GALLAGHER ESTATE, MIDRAND, SOUTH AFRICA

 

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revision date: Thursday, January 11, 2018
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