Defence a big focus for UDM

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On defence, United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa states in the party manifesto “it is unlikely that we will see conventional war that would require military action, but we should use our resources to the fullest and most important, in terms of the mandate of the SANDF, ensure the territorial integrity of this country, during peaceful times too.”

Holomisa goes on to state that, “the defence force has a greater role to play during disaster relief. With the unavoidable effects of climate change upon us, there should be greater preparedness and readiness to act when disaster strikes”.

The former Transkei Defence Force (TDF) two-star general postulates South Africa having “a small to medium-sized defence professional defence force with conventional and unconventional fighting capabilities, with a highly sophisticated technology equipment and strategic reach for peace capacity building missions anywhere in the continent”.

The UDM would further have military bases and personnel across the country train and be equipped to assist their civil counterparts in natural disaster relief efforts and revitalise training skills on counter-insurgency (COIN) warfare for “the SANDF to be responsive insurgency war settings”. Under UDM management there would also be well-thought out national strategies, “a blueprint for entry and exit master plan in bilateral peace building capacity missions”. The blueprint will have clearly defined deliverable milestones and mission strategic outcomes which fall into the ambit of defence diplomacy.

Crime and violence

“The ugly phenomenon of murder, violent crime, political assassinations and drugs sold in broad daylight is cause for concern. It does not say much about a government that cannot keep its citizens safe. Not to mention that it scares off investors and tourists,” the UDM manifesto states.

“The UDM however does believe that to ensure a long-term solution to crime and violence we, the citizens of South Africa, must devote ourselves to a collaborative long-term effort to reform our society so that we do not merely focus on the symptoms, but also eradicate the causes of crime and violence. The UDM recognises that communities play a critical role in addressing the root causes of crime and violence.”

Concerning illegal immigration, the UDM believes illegal immigrants are involved in a great number of crimes in South Africa. “Our porous borders mean that criminal elements enter the country, and we are facing the scourge of cash-in-transit heists, uninhibited drug distribution, violent robberies, counterfeiting, rampant prostitution and human trafficking. The criminal justice system is unable to handle these problems, which makes our people feel justified in their actions against foreign nationals – legal and illegal.”

One strategy to combat illegal immigration is to ask the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries to have an immediate leadership summit to discuss the issue of the implementation of resolutions regarding illegal immigration. “The UDM believes that the UN and the AU should assist South Africa in solving this dilemma.”

A UDM government will, according to its manifesto, enhance coordination between the ministries of justice, police, correctional services, defence and national intelligence, and establish a Crime Prevention Ministry to bring these departments under one umbrella.

It will also depoliticise all members of the SANDF, South African Police Service (SAPS) and Intelligence Communities; have a merit-based approach for leadership positions across all organs of state in the public sector; allocate more resources towards destroying crime syndicates and physically breaking up their power bases through such measures as forfeiture of property, crippling financial penalties, full victim compensation, and others; actively encourage communities to participate in the eradication of crime, reorganise the recruitment processes of the police, defence and intelligence services; and improve police capacity and training.

Gender-based violence and femicide

Like most other parties, the UDM sees gender-based violence as a big concern. As of the 2022/2023 fiscal year, a total of 43 037 reported rape offenses were committed in South Africa, it notes. The justice system is failing victims of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF), the UDM states. “The problems start with the underreporting of GBV, as well as the intimidation and revictimisation of victims, even at police stations and within our communities. Perpetrators are often given bail, only to reoffend or even to escalate their crimes. It is estimated that over 40% of South African women will be raped in their lifetime and that only one in nine rapes are reported. In the few cases that are prosecuted sentences are far too lenient and once on parole, convicted felons recommit and/or escalate.”

To address this issue, a UDM government will ensure the active participation of women in society and particular the scaling of efforts to address unequal gender power relations; review legislation in terms of the bail and sentencing of GBVF-related crimes; dedicate more resources (staff, training and money) to the South African Police Services so as to ensure the implementation of the existing and new legislation; and intensify awareness campaigns around GBVF and sensitising communities around the plight of victims.