The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said it condemns the “unleashing of the army on the people of South Africa” in apparent reference to the deployment of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) troops to maintain law and order during the State Of the Nation Address (Sona).
In a late night statement on Tuesday the EFF said it took note that President Jacob Zuma had authorised the deployment of 441 members of SANDF for Sona.
Earlier on Tuesday Zuma authorised the deployment of the troops to “maintain law and order” when he addresses the nation on Thursday. He was also expected to “meet and greet” African National Congress (ANC) party members at the Grand Parade afterwards.
In the statement attributed to party spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, the EFF said: “We condemn this initiative as the unleashing of the army on the people of South Africa. It must be seen as the declaration of war on citizens, which means Zuma is planning to murder those he disagrees with at the Sona”.
The EFF said the military has no place in the maintenance of law and order. “The South African Police Service are given such a mandate”.
The EFF continued: “The military are people who get deployed for war and whose training is about killing the enemies of the state. We know for sure that this initiative by Zuma is done to intimidate the media and the EFF.
“Zuma no longer has confidence on the rank and file, including captains with the SAPS to execute his illegal decisions and instructions. He now hopes to use SANDF to suppress opposition to his illegitimacy as a constitutional delinquent.”
The EFF called on members of the media to “defy any and all unjust regulations” designed to undermine their freedoms of movement and of the media.
“They too have a duty to undertake their journalism with full constitutional activism as citizens and human beings with human rights. We also all have a duty to defend parliament as a house of the people. It does not belong to Zuma and it will never be; it must always be a people’s parliament.
“We further call on SANDF members to defy unjust orders from a criminal president. They must refuse to be turned against the people; they must instead turn their guns against Zuma. We call on them to respect parliament and the parliament of the people and not of Zuma.
“Zuma has no constitutional mandate to impose law and order on parliament; this is a direct violation of the separation of powers.”
The EFF said parliament precinct must be respected as sacrosanct.
“As the EFF, we shall never be deterred. No amount of security and intimidation will deter us from holing Zuma accountable in terms of the constitution. We will defend the constitution to the end and with whatever revolutionary means possible.”