SONA 2017: President Jacob Zuma believes that the deployment of 441 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for SONA 2017 is as important as the SONA itself.
Opposition groups were left dumbfounded when President Jacob Zuma told Parliament on Wednesday that he would be deploying some members of the SANDF to Parliament for this year’s SONA.
Read Also: SONA 2017: Malema To Miss The Annual Event?
According to the president, the state decided to mobilize the soldiers so that they would ensure people maintain the law and to kick troublemakers out of the vicinity.
He explained in his letter that the soldiers will be on duty for five days and that it will cost the state a whopping R204 000.
Although Zuma refused to comment about the issue in details, many believe he was making reference to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members and some groups, who have planned to protest around the Cape Town CBD on Thursday.
Since 2014, the EFF has been leading disruptions during Zuma’s appearances at SONA, refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of his presidency.
During 2015 SONA, three Economic Freedom Fighters MPs, including party leader Julius Malema, were ejected out of the National Assembly by security officers after they persistently questioned Zuma about misspending taxpayers’ money on his home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.
During 2016 SONA held on February 11, Malema and his men (commonly known as Parliament bouncers) successfully disrupted Zuma’s address, irrespective of the overwhelming number of members of the parliamentary protection guard, commonly known as the ‘white shirts’ who were present.
From all indications, the fighters seem to have braced up for another action-filled SONA this year, as earlier predicted.
Recall that at a press conference held last month at EFF headquarters in Braamfontein, Malema implied that President Zuma and National Speaker Baleka Mbete could have more fights to separate during 2017 SONA.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the development, the EFF has condemned the unleashing of soldiers on the people of South Africa.
The party’s spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said in a late-night statement released on Tuesday that the maintenance of law and order is exclusive to the SAPS, not the SANDF.
Ndlozi emphasized that Zuma has no power to deploy SANDF members since soldiers are deployed for war against enemies of the state.
“We condemn this initiative as the unleashing of the army on the people of South Africa. It must be seen as the declaration of war on citizens, which means Zuma is planning to murder those he disagrees with at the SONA”.
The battle line is drawn. Do you stand with President Zuma or the EFF?