Government called on to be ’coherent’ about unrest
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Cape Town - The parliamentary joint standing committee on defence on Monday fell short of calling on the government to speak with one voice on the unrest that erupted in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
In a statement, the committee called for “coherence” in characterising what led to the “violence, wanton looting and destruction of property over the past week”.
This after the committee was briefed by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and SANDF top brass on the roll-out of defence and top leadership of the SANDF on the roll-out of Operation Prosper.
Responding to questions, Mapisa-Nqakula said contrary to suggestions of an insurrection or a coup, their view was that they were probably seeing signs of a counter-revolution that was creeping in in the form of criminality and thuggery.
This was contradicting President Cyril Ramaphosa who described the protests and looting as failed insurrection.
Committee chairperson Cyril Xaba said the intelligence community should play a critical role in understanding and characterising the disturbance. “The characterisation of the violence will assist in planning and counteracting similar future disturbances.
“The reality is that the SANDF is projecting spending about R615 million on this project and it is critical that there is clarity and coherence on what this budget is spent on now and what resources are necessary to prevent any future flare-up,” Xaba said.
The committee welcomed the Sunday briefing where they were informed that 21 525 soldiers were deployed as part of Operation Prosper and that more units were on standby in other provinces that have not yet experienced protest action, he said.
“Since the deployment of the SANDF we have seen laudable calm and stability, which gives us assurances that our security is in good hands. We appreciate the augmentation of the deployed soldiers and are reassured that there will be no similar flare-up,” co-chairperson Mamagase Nchabeleng said.
Xaba said there was a need to consider designating the N3 highway and other major arteries as critical infrastructure to enable better and efficient protection of these roads.
“We appreciate the information that there is increased deployment and patrol on the N3 to counter any disturbance. This is critical to the functioning of the economy, especially as the country rebuilds from the devastation caused by Covid-19,” he said.
The MPs plan visits to assess the roll-out of Operation Prosper and the impact it is having on the ground in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng on Tuesday and Wednesday.