Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has explained issues around the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to parliament for President Jacob Zuma’s Sona on Thursday night.
In an interview with the SABC, the minister said the SANDF never deployed internally without the authorisation of the commander-in-chief, the president of South Africa. When the president does authorise, it is after the minister of police has made a request to the president for the deployment of the force in support of the police.
If, and when, the minister of police makes that request, he only does it informed by the security assessment that has been conducted by the police and state security.
She has confirmed that her ministry has signed a request for the president to sign a presidential minute, which will then go to parliament as an announcement.
“So I’m just saying that there is nothing strange, new or untoward about the processes that have been followed. But I want to assure South Africans that here there is no abuse of state power. In any request made that we have to deploy, we do so only in support of police. The defence force will be on standby in the event that a calamity will occur.”
She says South Africans should consider that the defence force has the navy, the air force and health services, not just the army. What “deployment” simply means is that there is a base in Cape Town, where soldiers will be waiting in the event of a calamity, she says.
“It does not mean that the SANDF will be your first line of defence in parliament. You’ve never seen soldiers in parliament, even when there a crisis which occurred the other year  when people tried to destabilise the Sona, you never saw men and women in uniform.”
She says only police will be outside parliament, not the soldiers.