National defence force election “employment” will cost millions


Elected officials in the National Assembly (NA) and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) will be notified 10 000 SA National Defence Force (SANDF) personnel will be on election duty from Saturday (30 October) to Wednesday (3 November).

“Correspondence”, is the word used in an official Parliament statement to indicate Commander-in-Chief President Cyril Ramaphosa’s compliance with Constitutional obligations to inform both Parliamentary houses that soldiers, among other military personnel, are going to be part of “safe and secure” local government elections scheduled for Monday, 1 November. The Parliamentary statement was issued yesterday (Wednesday, 27 October) with no indication of when parliamentarians and NCOP members will officially know of the Presidential authorisation. It is to be communicated through official Parliament publications.

The Presidential “correspondence”, the statement addressed to NA Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and her NCOP colleague Amos Masondo, has it that 10 000 public servants wearing military uniform will do “service in co-operation with the SA Police Service (SAPS) for the establishment of a safe and secure environment during the local government elections 2021 in the country”.

Expenditure on the military “employment” is set at R47 249 000. With no indication of special financial allocation or arrangements made in the “correspondence” it appears the money will come from an already under stress defence budget.

Speaking during a Cabinet security cluster briefing earlier this week, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise said soldiers would protect national key points and be on standby to provide support “under the ambit of NatJoints (National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure)”. If needed this “support” would be to the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission) and police.

The security cluster briefing assured South Africans police, soldiers and other law enforcement agencies will be deployed as “determined and guided by structured threat analysis and crime patterns”. In addition to police officers, police reserves will be on standby if needed in and around identified hotspots. According to Police Minister Bheki Cele, the Eastern and Western Cape along with Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal are “high risk” areas.

The SANDF, in the form of its Directorate: Corporate Communication (DCC), expanded on its electoral security role saying protection of strategic and critical infrastructure, strategic routes and Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) voting material storage warehouses would be part of its tasking. The SANDF tasking, under the Operation Prosper umbrella of providing assistance to government departments, entities and agencies, will see the SA Air Force (SAAF) transport “voting material” to inaccessible areas to ensure as many South Africans as possible make it to polling stations on Monday.