SANDF on alert post elections

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The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) remains on alert in the wake of the national elections, with vehicles being made ready for an Operation Prosper deployment to protect infrastructure.

Chief Directorate Army Force Preparation on 2 June issued an instruction, seen by defenceWeb, on the mobilisation of SA Army drivers for Operation Prosper, which sees the military support government in efforts to ensure, among others, the maintenance of law and order.

The instruction notes the Chief of the SA Army, Lieutenant General Lawrence Khulekani Mbatha, has instructed Force Structure Elements under his command to be immediately activated to mobilise the movement of drivers in orders to secure the Republic of South Africa’s National Key Points (RSANKP).

The aim of the instruction is “to authorise Formation GOCs [General Officers Commanding] in conjunction with Modern Brigade Headquarters to plan, coordinate and mobilise drivers in order to facilitate the centralisation of strategic mobility to all RSANKP.”

Formations and Modern Brigade headquarters needed to ensure all drivers are moved to and centralised at 21 South African Infantry Battalion in order to facilitate the movement of forces within Gauteng no later than midday 2 June.

The GOC SA Army Infantry Formation, GOC SA Army Support Formation, GOC SA Army Artillery Formation, GOC SA Army Air Defence Artillery Formation, and GOC SA Army Armour Formation were each required to prepare and provide 30 Samil 50 and 60 Casspir/Mamba drivers to collect 50 personnel carriers and Casspirs from the Department of Defence Mobilisation Centre by 2 June and deploy to 21 SAI.

On 28 May, President Cyril Ramaphosa informed the National Assembly that 2 828 members of the SANDF will be employed for service in cooperation with the South African Police Service (SAPS) for the prevention and combating of crime and for the maintenance and preservation of law and order during the National and Provincial Elections.

The employment of the SANDF personnel will form part of Operation Prosper and applies from 20 May to 7 June 2024, at an estimated cost of R59 451 704.

On Sunday, Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) Ministers briefed the media on any potential threats of unrest after the release of election results.

On Saturday night, former President Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party said there would not be any declaration of results because the elections were rigged, and called for a recount. Police and private security companies fear a repeat of the 2021 July riots when Zuma’s supporters went on a rampage when he was incarcerated.

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) said it would protect the right of the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to perform its constitutional duty.

NATJOINTS said this during a media briefing at the South African Police Service headquarters in Pretoria on Sunday.

“The NATJOINTS have confirmed to the security cluster ministers of their readiness to ensure continued peaceful environment post the election results declaration. We would like to assure the country that the constitution provides the mandate to manage the elections to the IEC therefore the decision to declare the results rests solely with the IEC,” said Police Minister Bheki Cele.

The JCPS said it was satisfied with how law enforcement agencies prevented and responded to incidents that would have otherwise tarnished the seventh general elections in the country, and is prepared to ensure the safety and security of the country in the post-election phase.

National Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola said ninety people were arrested over the three days of elections last week. On the first day of special votes on Monday, police registered 26 cases and arrested 24 people. On the second day of special votes on Tuesday, police logged 32 cases, and nine people were detained. On Election Day on Wednesday, 29 May, 37 cases were registered, leading to the arrest of 57 individuals.

In total, police arrested 90 people of which the majority have since been released on bail. “Twenty-two are still inside as we speak and that is all about the matters of cases during the three days of the election,” explained Masemola.

Addressing the ceremony held to announce the results of the 2024 National and Provincial Election on Sunday, Ramaphosa commended South Africans for participating in the elections.

“They have given effect to the clarion call that has resonated across the generations, that the people shall govern….our people have spoken. As the leaders of political parties, as all those who occupy positions of responsibility in society, we have heard the voices of our people and we must respect their wishes,” Ramaphosa said at the Electoral Commission’s Result Operations Centre in Midrand.

He praised the IEC, law enforcement parties and independents for their actions during the elections. “We pay tribute to the men and women of the South African Police Service and the South African National Defence Force for ensuring peace and stability during voting, and to the Home Affairs staff who ensured that as many voters as possible had their identity documents on Election Day,” Ramaphosa said.

Some 16 248 027 citizens exercised their Constitutional right to cast their ballots, with voter turnout standing at 58.58% – the lowest ever in South Africa’s 30-year democratic history.

After all the ballots were counted, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) received only 40.18% of votes, well short of a majority, forcing it to make a deal with other parties to form a coalition government.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) received the second-highest number of votes (21.81%), followed by the MK party (14.58%) and Economic Freedom Fighters (9.52%).

The ANC received enough votes to secure more than 50% in five out of South Africa’s nine provinces: Limpopo (74%), the Eastern Cape (62%), North West (59%), Free State (53%), and Mpumalanga (52%). In the Northern Cape (49%) and Gauteng (36%), the ANC fell short of a majority and will need to find coalition partners to form the government.

The Democratic Alliance will continue to govern the Western Cape (53%), which it has done since 2009. The biggest upset was in KwaZulu-Natal where the MK party received the highest number of votes at some 46%, ahead of the ANC which managed about 18%.