Fears of 'massive uprising' behind Zuma's army deployment?

2017-02-08 12:51
Soldiers rehearse for the 2017 State of the Nation Address. (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

Soldiers rehearse for the 2017 State of the Nation Address. (Jaco Marais, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - Intelligence operatives have received an early warning of a massive uprising targeting President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address, involving several disgruntled groups which have joined forces to disrupt the event and destabilise the area.

It is this warning, several well-placed sources say, that prompted Zuma to authorise the deployment of 441 soldiers to assist police in “law and order” activities on Thursday for the opening of Parliament.

The sources told News24 there are fears police alone will not be able to manage the situation.

“This is more of a preventative measure to protect the proceedings. This won’t just be teargas; this could mean sharp point ammunition. There’s serious division in the ruling party and there’s been a push to mobilise as many groups [that are disgruntled with the ANC] together so that they can disrupt things,” one said.

“Informal traders have already been told not to come into town. The mood is not good on the ground.”

In previous years about 200 police officers were deployed for the opening of Parliament -  the number of soldiers alone this year is more than double that.

The groups that have merged are said to be varying in terms of what they stand for.

Shacks might be erected

Information apparently received by intelligence officers was that some protesters planned to erect shacks outside Parliament on Thursday ahead of the SONA.

This was to highlight a lack of proper housing for poorer residents around the country.

News24 understands that a company that specialises in helping with evictions and relocations has already been approached to be on standby should the shacks be erected.

They will be tasked with tearing the structures down.

Disruptions at the ANC’s "People's Assembly" on the Grand Parade were also expected.

About 10 000 ANC supporters were set to attend the event from 17:00 on Thursday.

Zuma was also expected to address supporters there after his SONA address.

On Wednesday sources told News24 that because of divisions within the party, splinter groupings within the expected 10 000 ANC supporters planned to act out.

“They plan to mobilise on the parade to destabilise the process.”

Soldiers 'could be used'

Sources said that the deployment of soldiers could be used by groups opposed to Zuma.

“If any violence involving the soldiers breaks out, imagine how bad it will look for the country. This plan to clamp down could backfire,” a source said.

Some have claimed that the Ses' Khona People's Rights Movement would be involved in protests on Thursday, however, its leader Andile Lili said that to prevent members from being “used” by politicians, the group had decided not to attend any events in the city on Thursday relating to SONA.

“All we want is for the ANC to regain its former glory. Why must we go and defend [the] president and the leadership?” he asked.

“This all shows we’re [at] a crossroads. It’s chaos. We want a credible leadership. We have been used for a very long time. To go [to SONA events] will be discrediting the brand of Ses' Khona.”

After news broke on Tuesday that Zuma had authorised the use of SANDF personnel for SONA, several political parties had questioned the legality of this move.

“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,” EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said in a statement. 

Read more on:    parliament  |  sandf  |  cape town  |  sona 2017

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