Loyalty to the State


Where should the loyalty of the soldier lie in a constitutional democracy? In a constitutional democracy the Constitution is sovereign, unlike in a Parliamentary democracy, such as the United Kingdom where it is, since the time of Oliver Cromwell, the lawmaker: in effect the Prime Minister. Constitutional dictatorships also differ of course from monarchies where the king is sovereign and dictatorships where the same applies.

According to the Department of Defence`s Corporate Human Resource Support Plan (HRSP) for this year, the “human resource profile requires an individual to display the following acquired qualities: … Loyalty to the State …”[1]

This is troubling and one hopes an oversight. Loyalty to the state and constitution is not the same thing and to this editor the HRSP gets the precedence wrong. Loyalty to the state follows from loyalty to the Constitution as loyalty to the first naturally leads to the second. But the Constitution is greater than the state and loyalty to the state, per se, does not imply loyalty to the nation`s basic law that inter alia creates the state, while recognising certain individual rights and responsibilities.

Had the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) been named along the lines of its German counterpart, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV, “Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution”), would it have been seduced into supporting factionalism in the ruling party?

It is difficult to say. The point is that the name would have given its operatives considerably guidance on where their loyalty and focus should rest.

The idea here is not to suggest a renaming of the South African National Defence Force (although I`d be remiss not to recommend that for NIA), but to propose that soldiers be inculcated that as their duty of loyalty of the state flows from their loyalty to the Constitution, which is sovereign.

This should not be too difficult. The commander-in-chief, Jacob Zuma, in his capacity as President of the Republic has already sworn an oath to defend the Constitution.

[1] Paragraph 13.1.