Deployment of Defence Force raises numerous questions
22 April 2020
The deployment of an additional 73 180 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to help the police to enforce Covid-19 regulations raises many burning questions. That brings the total number of deployed soldiers to 76 000 at an estimated cost of R4,59 billion.
It basically comes down to the SANDF's total manpower. There are approximately 21 000 reserve soldiers still available. This raises the question of whether some information concerning the Covid-19 pandemic is kept from the public and whether a greater crisis is expected and that is why so many soldiers are being deployed.
The lack of clarity creates great concern and uncertainty among the general public about the future and the true extent of the Covid-19 crisis in South Africa. It also invokes fear in the public, particularly in the context of the soldier's violent behaviour. The President must fully explain the real reasons for the extensive deployment of soldiers as soon as possible.
In practice, this deployment of soldiers comes down to a state of emergency in South Africa and the Disaster Management Act is now being exploited to bypass certain constitutional requirements for such a state of emergency. In terms of Section 37 of the Constitution, there needs to be strict parliamentary oversight in a state of emergency, but in terms of the Disaster Management Act, there is almost no oversight.
This is a serious flaw that the FF Plus will address by introducing a Private Member's Bill to the National Disaster Management Act in Parliament.
There are also questions regarding whether the SANDF really does have the ability to make 76 000 soldiers available even with the 21 000 reserve soldiers.
The President has let South Africa down by failing to explain why he deployed the SANDF while he had the opportunity to do so.
Issued by Pieter Groenewald, FF Plus leader, 22 April 2020