In The News South Africa

Zuma ‘in breach of constitution over SONA soldier employment’, says DA

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has released a statement saying President Jacob Zuma is in breach of the constitution over the employment of soldiers for the State of the Nation (SONA) address. This comes after the DA had requested to meet the Speaker of Parliament over the “militarisation of the SONA”.

DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen said: “The Secretary to Parliament, Gengezi Mgidlana, today confirmed that Jacob Zuma was in breach of the Constitution in 2016 when he failed to write to Parliament informing it that 188 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) would be employed for service during the opening of Parliament.

“Section 201(4) of the Constitution states that the employment of the defence force may only be authorised by the President, as head of the national executive, and that the president ‘must provide the information … to the appropriate oversight committee’.  What this means is that the employment of SANDF personnel at Parliament has never before been referred to or approved by the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, as required by the Constitution.

“The Speaker has committed to releasing a statement clarifying the exact nature of the employment of SANDF members, specifically where the soldiers will be stationed and positioned. Clarity is indeed required as the President’s letter states that 441 ‘[m]embers of the SANDF employed will be assisting the SAPS to maintain law and order during the opening of Parliament’. We will study this statement closely.”

Steenhuisen added that the “securitisation” of the parliamentary precinct is at odds with a “People’s Parliament” and “nowhere is this more self-evident than the increasing militarisation of SONA”.

– Staff Reporter

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