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DA warns on SANDF ‘authoritarianism’

Cape Town - There is a “dangerous creeping authoritarianism” within the SA National Defence Force, DA MP David Maynier warned on Wednesday.

Speaking in Parliament during debate on the defence department's R42.8 billion budget, he told defence chief General Solly Shoke, who was present in the public gallery: “With respect, sir, you are failing in your duty.”

DA MP David Maynier. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Maynier said that by resisting the authority of Parliament, Shoke was creating the impression that the defence force was not accountable to, and did not respect Parliament.

“You are taking the defence force down a very dangerous road, away from the future, and back to the past.

“I am therefore appealing to you directly: stop this dangerous creeping authoritarianism in the defence force. Before it is too late.”

Earlier, Maynier said the defence force chief had “never, ever, appeared before the portfolio committee on defence and military veterans, and has never, ever, appeared before the joint standing committee on defence”.

Further, over the past five years, MPs had never received a detailed briefing on military preparedness, and had never received a detailed briefing on defence acquisition.

“In the end, the defence force has become a state-within-a-state, beyond oversight and scrutiny by Parliament,” he said.

Shoke was promoted to SANDF chief in 2011.

Turning to the wastage of funds by the SANDF, Maynier raised a laugh from opposition MPs when he suddenly took out a shiny, black shoe from his bench.

“We are wasting too much money in the defence force. And nothing symbolises this more than the R6 million spent on the development of (this) so-called women's court shoe,” he said, waving the footwear in the air for all to see.

Maynier then spoke to several military veterans, present in the public gallery.

“You must know that the defence force has spent more than R6m - that is the equivalent of 50 houses for military veterans - developing a women's court shoe,” he told them. - Sapa

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