In 2013, 168 soldiers stood guard outside parliament, in line with protocol to observe the ceremonial services of the day.
In 2015, that number was subtly increased by 20 to 188 members of the army. That was the year Zuma managed to deliver his state of the nation address amid disruptions by members of the EFF, who demanded he ‘pay back the money’ in reference to the millions of taxpayers’ money that had been spent on upgrades to the president’s Nkandla home.
Though the EFF was aggressively removed from parliament by plainclothes policemen and members of the president’s security detail, Zuma’s decision to deploy 441 soldiers has raised eyebrows as to whether he intends to use excessive force once more.
The EFF have stated they will create disorder again and not allow Zuma to address parliament and the country without issue.
According to The Sowetan, National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise has admitted that there is a heavier presence of South African National Defence Force soldiers but did not elaborate on reasons for this.
“The president is required when he deploys soldiers to inform parliament. It is required by law. The fact that this year there 441, parliament cannot explain the difference into why they chose 168 in 2013 and now 441,” said Modise.