Defence and security just make Zuma’s SONA


The broad canvas that is the State of the Nation Address generally doesn’t have much more than a brush stroke or two for defence and security and that was again the case when the Commander-in-Chief addressed a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the Council of Provinces yesterday.

President Jacob Zuma told a Parliamentary sitting without Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) or Democratic Alliance (DA) representatives present that the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC), a stopgap measure to provide a continental peacekeeping force until such time as the long-awaited African Standby Force (ASF) is ready, has been operationalised.

He did not go into any detail as regards South Africa’s commitment in terms of manpower or materiel or provide the names of other African countries who have committed to ACIRC. What is known is that last year’s SA National Defence Force (SANDF) annual force readiness exercise was an ACIRC one and not the usual conventional warfare preparation one.

The wider South African defence community waits with interest for word from The Presidency, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation and even the Department of Defence or the SANDF, on the country’s latest commitment to continental peace.

Given the paucity of information supplied in the past regarding the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali, among others, defenceWeb is not holding its editorial breath for information on the ACIRC deployment, said by some to be happening this year.

Zuma did give some insight into developments to hopefully see the slaughter of rhinos diminish.

Interventions include continuous joint operations with key neighbouring countries, improved intelligence gathering and enhanced protection in parks and reserves home to rhinos. What he didn’t say was who would be doing the work and where the money for it was coming from.

That information will hopefully be forthcoming when the National Budget is presented on February 23 by Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.