Ahead of the 8 May national and provincial elections, three more political parties have made public their manifestos and, with small exceptions, defence is again the poor relation.
Two of the parties – the Congress of the People (COPE) and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) – are headed by men with a close affinity to South Africa’s defence and security structures.
Mosiuoa Lekota is president of COPE and, in addition to terms as Free State Premier and National Council of Provinces chairman, also served in national government as Defence Minister from June 1999 to September 2008.
Retired major general Bantu Holomisa was commander of the erstwhile Transkei Defence Force (TDF) as well as heading the government of the then independent Transkei homeland between 1987 and 1994 ahead of South Africa’s first democratic election. He was one of the first two black officers accepted by the then SA Army College for the one year senior staff officer’s course in 1984.
The COPE manifesto makes no specific mention of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and takes one of the military’s taskings – border control – as its sole contribution to national security and sovereignty.
A COPE government, the manifesto has it, will protect and control South Africa’s borders and all ports of entry to better manage migration.
Holomisa’s UDM manifesto gives a broader view of safety and security, looking at issues nationally via a civil order system which the party says will have the necessary support because “improving one asset of the system is insufficient as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”.
A UDM government will enhance co-ordination between the ministries of justice, police services, correctional services, defence and national intelligence. The UDM will establish what it calls a Crime Prevention Ministry to co-ordinate the work of these five ministries and will reorganise recruitment for the SANDF, SAPS and national intelligence services.
Also on the subject of cross-border transgressions, Holomisa’s party says it will lobby the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to “seriously consider establishing an apparatus to respond to cross-border crime and terrorism”.
The KwaZulu-Natal headquartered Inkatha Freedom party (IFP) under the leadership of veteran politician Mangosuthu Buthelezi split its manifesto into seven sections with “safety, security and justice” covering defence and crime related issues. The national defence force is mentioned once in relation to border security with the IFP saying it must be empowered and deployed to curb human trafficking, cross-border and illicit trade in weapons, drugs and wildlife trafficking.