Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Thandi Modise on Wednesday said the Parliamentary presiding officers did not have reasons why President Jacob Zuma had significantly increased the number of SA National Defence Force troops deployed to Parliament for service during the State-of-the-Nation Address.
“The President is required by law to inform Parliament when he deploys soldiers – whether they are coming to Parliament or not. The fact that this year there is 441 [soldiers], Parliament cannot explain that difference – why it was 168 in 2013 and now he chose to deploy 441,” Modise addressed journalists in Cape Town, ahead of Zuma’s much-awaited speech scheduled for Thursday.
“Earlier, in our meeting with the chief whips of different parties, we undertook to find out why the numbers have gone up, because we, ourselves cannot explain it. We don’t want to speculate and give reasons that tomorrow you will say we misled you.”
Modise conceded that the number of SANDF members being deployed to man the Sona has been steadily increasing.
“You [media] are saying since 2013 the number [of members of the SANDF] has been increasing, and it is true. In 2013, it was 168, two years later it became 188 and in 2017 it’s 441,” said Modise.
On Tuesday, 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 SANDF troops to maintain law and order during Sona.
This was in response to Zuma’s deployment of the 441 soldiers for Sona.
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”.
– African News Agency