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SANDF deployment should be executed with transparency - political parties

Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 11, 2021


Johannesburg - A number of political parties say the deployment of the SANDF should be executed with transparency.

This as the government confirmed that soldiers had been deployed to National Key Points including the SABC, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s homes in Pretoria and Cape Town, and other undisclosed destinations.

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Department of Defence and Military Veterans spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini yesterday said they were not at liberty to list areas considered National Key Points.

“Unfortunately, we do not discuss operational matters with anyone,” said Dlamini.

An anonymous source within the SANDF said National Key Points included airports, the SABC, transmission stations, pumping stations, Parliament, the Transnet pipeline, depots, Rand Water, fuel depots, mining, Mint SA, former presidents’ homes, provincial legislatures, power stations and refineries.

“Most of the Key Points like Parliament or Union Buildings by nature are guarded by soldiers or the SAPS. Key Point areas can be used to sabotage the state,” said the source.

On Sunday, the department said the deployment of SANDF officers at the public broadcaster’s offices in some parts of the country was on Ramaphosa’s deployment order of July 22 to place them at National Key Points.

Political analyst Lukhona Mnguni said National Key Points should at all times be afforded the requisite security.

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Mnguni added that given the unrest of the past month, there may be justifiable intelligence to say there was a need to secure National Key Points.

“We saw, for example, with the port in Durban that perhaps there were mistakes made in so far as not securing it properly, then there were cyber bridges and so on. So in an environment where there is trust in the government and politicians, this wouldn't be a problem.

“What is an issue here is whether or not the government has been transparent, particularly the president with deploying powers as the commander-in-chief, whether he is being transparent with his exercise of power and that indeed there are justifiable grounds that would be from intelligence work to say if there is a need to secure the SABC,” said Mnguni.

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“I think it is a bit out of context or out of proportion to suggest that the soldiers are there to intimidate journalists and the workers at the SABC to push a particular narrative – I don’t think it’s correct at all. But the call here is for more transparency, taking the country into the confidence of the leadership and ensuring that there is great understanding of what is going on, that citizens know what is going on without being sidelined,” he said.

DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Sarel Jacobus Francois Marais, said that when Ramaphosa authorised the deployment it was a known fact that part of their responsibilities would be to guard strategic National Key Points, and essential commercial and other points of national interests.

“At face value there seems nothing wrong with them guarding the officially declared strategic National Key Points. It's part of their mandate under Op Prosper, which is mainly actual deployment to KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

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“I can tell you that even I've tried in open meetings to get specifics, but they won’t do that. They would rather provide that in a closed meeting. They claim it would be information that adversaries could use to the detriment of our country,” said Marais.

Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said that National Key Points were supposed to be guarded all the time, and not just on special occasions.

“It is the responsibility of SAPS to provide security at National Key Points, and it is they who can ask for assistance from the SANDF. We will strongly object when the SANDF is taking over the responsibility of the police,” said Bloem.

FF Plus leader Dr Pieter Groenewald said it was standard procedure to deploy soldiers at National Key Points under the present circumstances.

Parliament did not comment to a media query asking whether or not soldiers had been deployed outside its premises.

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Political Bureau