What the uMkhonto weSize Party sees for South Africa on the defence and security front

1509

After legal victory over the majority African National Congress, one of the newest additions to the South African political environment – the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) – is making no bones about its plans for defence and security in its recently launched 24 page manifesto.

In its military and veterans preamble, the party stated that former liberation armies have received “an unpleasant deal despite government policies stipulating benefits to be accrued by military veterans.” It went on to state that military veterans’ demobilization packages were not enough to cover their living expenses.

The MKP said there is a decline in investment in military equipment, recruitment and training of military personnel and very limited career progression in the army. “The military service provides an opportunity to fight against youth unemployment, instil patriotism and promote civic values and national culture. The capacity of South Africa to conduct military research, technology research and equipment manufacturing has been destroyed.”

Consequently, the MKP sets out six objectives ranging from a review of the integration process that led to the formation of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in 1994, reviewing the current military veterans’ pension “regime” and “deliberately” increasing investment in new military equipment. Upping maintenance on military equipment also forms part of the MKP’s defence commitment as does the capitalisation of Armscor and Denel. This, the party avers, will “drive state-to-state military co-operation with BRICS (Brazil, Russia India, China and South Africa) countries to leapfrog our technological and local manufacturing capacity”. Commercialising “some” military technologies will, the MKP has it, “resolve the challenges of meeting the basic needs of the people”.

Border security

The MK Party sees South Africa facing “a significant challenge with the influx of illegal immigrants through its borders, which poses a threat to the country’s security. Illegal immigration strains public resources, including healthcare, education, and social services. The Border Management Authority (BMA) is ineffective, facing a lack of resources and infrastructure, coordination and cooperation issues and corruption and mismanagement.”

The MKP will, if it gains sufficient votes to be the majority party nationally, assign border control to the military and implement “advanced technological solutions” to further enhance border control.

The Border Management Authority (BMA) will be enhanced through further capacitation and extra resources, and collaboration and coordination will be encouraged with other relevant government agencies.

Policing

With regard to civil security and policing, the MK Party pointed out that the ratio of one police officer for every 242 citizens is alarmingly low and “raises significant concerns regarding public safety and law enforcement capabilities. There are insufficient police vehicles, many police stations are not well-resourced and there is very little use of modern technology in the delivery of policing services. “South Africa has been flagged as a centre of drug-trafficking, human trafficking, international money laundering. There are serious weaknesses of factionalisation and fragmentation in intelligence services.”

The party’s manifesto said the imbalance between police officers and citizens contributes to feelings of insecurity and mistrust among the population. It went on to say that mob justice accounts for over 1000 deaths every year; South Africa reported over 10 516 rapes, 1 514 cases of attempted murder and 14 401 assaults against female victims, and the murder rate has been consistently high in South Africa, with an average 75 people killed every day.

In response, the MKP pledged to, “adopt a multifaceted approach that involves increasing investments in law enforcement recruitment, training, and equipment; implement policies to improve police-community relations and enhance collaboration with other stakeholders; strengthen the fight against corruption by increasing the funding and capacity of the investigative directorate; foster closer co-operation between police services and crime intelligence; strengthen crime intelligence and clean out operatives that have links with criminal syndicates; resource forensic laboratories to speed up arrests and improve convictions; ensure that each police station has a well-resourced specialised unit dedicated to the investigation of gender-based crimes; accelerate the prosecution of all pending cases that have long been overdue since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; and hold a referendum on the death penalty.

Correctional services

On correctional services, the MKP said as of December 2023, South Africa ranked 12th in the world with the largest number of prisoners and ranked 1st in Africa. “On average, there is over 40% overcrowding in South Africa’s 342 correctional centre and 218 community centres.”

The party’s solution is to deploy technology at correctional centres to reduce crime, ensure offenders become part of crime-fighting initiatives, and fight to eliminate corruption among correctional officials and police.

This is the first of a number of defenceWeb reports to be published between now and Election Day on 29 May, highlighting defence and security specific aspects from party manifestos.