The IFP has cautioned against South African National Defence Force (SANDF) generals being involved in politics, saying the politicisation of the force was “deeply worrying and indefensible”.
On Tuesday, SANDF chief General Solly Shoke issued a warning to members, in which he cautioned against getting involved in political party affairs.
Shoke also distanced the SANDF from any “purported meeting inviting senior military members to discuss political party matters”.
News24 reported on Thursday that retired general Maomela “Mojo” Motau had organised an ANC cadres’ assembly and is said to have extended an invitation to current and former SANDF members – raising the ire of the head of the force.
A pamphlet, which called “cadres” of the ANC to a discussion set for 25 September, resulted in the SANDF releasing an unprecedented media statement on Wednesday, where Shoke warned members of the military against getting involved in party political issues
Motau defended the event.
He said soldiers, who were cadres of the ANC, had a right to participate in such a discussion.
IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said a “lack of appreciation of the difference between party and state” is at the root of many problems faced by the country.
Hlengwa says the ANC’s uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) needs to be called to order.
“The continued existence of the MKMVA appendage as a paramilitary force of the ANC – despite the fact that all military formations pre-1994 were disbanded and subsequently integrated into a new inclusive SANDF – is a threat to our constitutional democracy,” Hlengwa said.
However, MKMVA and its splinter group of military veterans, MK Council, have both denounced the effort to have soldiers discuss ANC issues.
Deputy Defence Minister Thabang Makwetla said it was indefensible for SANDF members to be involved in party partisan politics, and that it could never be allowed.
“The chief of the defence force was right to take it seriously. Those are officers who must execute his orders and, if he allows the top brass of the defence to be party partisan, he is allowing the possibility of his own orders being undermined or disregarded by the institution,” he said.
Hlengwa added: “Members serving in the SANDF need to do so without political bias and remain impartial, fair, and in service to protect, defend and safeguard all South Africans from any forms of danger.
“The IFP welcomes the sentiments expressed by SANDF General Solly Shoke in calling members serving in the military to remain impartial and not involve themselves in party political matters.”
Hlengwa added that national security agencies and apparatus of the state should not be “skewed and involved in internal political affairs”.
He added that an incident, such as the use of a military jet by the ANC, was cause for concern as it highlights a “deliberate choice to disregard the separation of party and state”.
On Saturday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that he reprimanded Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and docked three months’ salary, for her error in judgement with regard to the ANC junket.