Time to cut the speculation around the 441 SANDF Soldiers

2017-02-08 09:08

National Ceremonial Guard band at the steps of parliament.

SONA each year has close to 1000 soldiers deployed to line the streets for the presidential parade and provide assistance to the smooth running of things.

However President Zuma has last night authorised the use of 441 additional soldiers. This is an additional deployment to those that normally line the streets, and it seems that the correct protocol in terms of section 201 of the Constitution has not been followed. There are certain guidelines that need to be followed when soldiers are deployed.

In terms of section 205(3) of the Constitution the police service, SAPS is tasked with "preventing, combating and investigating crime, to maintain public order, to protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, and to uphold and enforce the law."

The President of South Africa:

"must inform Parliament, promptly and in appropriate detail, of (a) the reasons for the employment of the defence force; (b) any place where the force is being employed; (c) the number of people involved; and (d) the period for which the force is expected to be employed."

He informed parliament last night and they can reverse this decision.  They have the mandate to do so. However we don't see an emergency sitting. We see parties running to the courts to interdict the deployment. And the courts will of course see that due process to stop this hasn't been followed. There there needs to be a democratic vote on this. Only then will it be a viable option to go to the court to indict the deployment.

What can we expect to see?

Barbed wire as far as they eye can see up Aderly street. Picture Tim Flack

On the day we will have the regular SANDF soldiers lining the streets. With R4 rifles. They will not be issued with ammunition so you can relax, they never are. There will be a mix of all the armed forces and their military bands playing music as they March and nd line Aderly street for the president and Co to drive up in their heavily bomb proofed, bullet proofed vehicles. Special forces snipers will be watching from above  if you look up wave, someone is looking at you down the barrel of a high powered snipers rifle.

President Jacob Zuma''s bomb proof, bullet proof transport to the steps of parliament. The windows are at least 3cm thick. TIM FLACK

9 South African infantry battalion has been deployed and they will be in combat gear. Helmets rifles, battle jackets, with extra ammo in and yes this is live ammunition, 5.56mm rounds to be exact. They will operate similarly to how they did during Operation FIELA. Walking in groups, hopefully fingers off triggers waiting should there be any unrest. These guys have seen combat and have seen war zones such as in the DRC. They have fired at people and been fired at themselves. These are combat soldiers. Not like the ones that line the streets from the Navy, Airforce, SA Medical Health Services and Army, who are the chefs, HR people and infantry, a wide variety of soldiers who make up the back bone of the SANDF.

In addition to this we will send state security personnel, special task force and choppers above. There will be personnel stashed in strategic places, nooks and crannies ready should there be any problem.

A lot of speculation is surrounding the deployment. I believe this is an unconstitutional deployment, and a serious violation and abuse of soldiers. It is an intimidation game, to keep the population under check. Why I don't know, the people that are at the parliamentary presinct are in any case vetted and checked and no one is just allowed in. You can't as Joe public walk in to see the proceedings. You have to be invited.

Out soldiers aren't trained to do the job of SAPS. Not during SONA, and not even in gang areas. They are soldiers. Not the presidents personal protection.

Picture Tim Flack.

Next week during the debate we won't see a single soldier deployed. The President is there, but all of a sudden the paranoia will fall away.

If you'd like to contact me with further questions. Tweet me @tim_meh87

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