Home News South African Mgwebi to head UN’s DR Congo mission

South African Mgwebi to head UN’s DR Congo mission

Published on 29/12/2015

An experienced South African general is taking over as commander of the 20,000-strong peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN's largest mission, officials said Tuesday.

Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi will head the MONUSCO force as it presses on with operations targeting rebel groups in the eastern DR Congo and as the country heads for elections next year.

Tensions have been rising ahead of the vote due in November over fears that President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, will seek changes to the constitution to stay in power.

Mgwebi, 59, served as head of the UN mission in Burundi from 2004 to 2006.

He is currently chief of joint operations of the South African Defense Forces, and has served as director of special forces and head of South Africa’s army infantry formation.

Mgwebi replaces Brazilian Lieutenant General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz, who wrapped up his two years in the post this month.

MONUSCO has the strongest offensive mandate of all UN peacekeeping missions, with a particular focus on protection of civilians.

It was with this mandate that the mission helped the Congolese army push back Rwandan-backed M23 rebels in 2013, deploying a special intervention brigade mainly made up of elite South African troops.

A UN statement announcing the MONUSCO appointment highlighted that Mgwebi “has more than 35 years of national and international military experience.”