PARLIAMENT, March 1 (ANA) – The deployment of armed SA National Defence Force (SANDF) member in the parliamentary precinct during the state of the nation address was not aimed at guarding President Jacob Zuma, but was a ceremonial exercise, deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.
“The presence of the SANDF was not here to protect one individual. They were here to conduct thier own ceremonial duties on the opening of Parliament,” Ramaphosa said responding to questions in the National Assembly.
The deputy president was responding to a question from Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane who claimed the army was deployed to unnerve opposition politicians.
“This should remain the people’s Parliament, not the executive’s Parliament…what steps will you take that the executive never again abuses the state security apparatus to intimidate members of Parliament and the media and that Parliament returns to its place as a separate arm of state?” Maimane asked.
Ramaphosa said he did not see the defence force deployment as “threatening”.
“I never thought that the members of the SANDF and the police are threatening. Yes, they are often here in numbers…but they always on a ceremonial type of guard,” Ramaphosa said to loud howling from opposition benches.
Ramaphosa said since the DA had launched a court challenge, citing, among others, the Speaker of Parliament, the police minister and the defence minister as respondents, to have the deployment of armed soldiers declared unconstitutional, he would await the outcome.
“We may differ on this, and it is not wrong to differ but the good thing that is that the Democratic Alliance has taken the matter to court, so let’s allow the courts to make a determination on this matter..,” he said.
“Once the court has made a determination we will know what the truth is.”
– African News Agency (ANA)