The Joint Standing Committee on Defence has called for coherence in characterising what led to the violence, wanton looting and destruction of property over the past week, especially in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
During a briefing with Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and top leadership of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) on the roll out of Operation Prosper, the committee said it believes that the intelligence community must play a critical role in understanding and characterising the unrest.
Co-Chairpersons of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, Cyril Xaba and Mamagase Nchabeleng, said the characterisation of the violence will assist in planning and counteracting similar future disturbances.
“The reality is that the SANDF is projecting spending about R615 million on this project and it is critical that there is clarity and coherence on what this budget is spent on now and what resources are necessary to prevent any future flare-up,” Xaba said.
Despite this, the committee welcomed the information that as of Sunday, 21 525 SANDF members had been deployed as part of Operation Prosper, and the assurances that more units are on standby in other provinces that have not yet experienced protest action. These deployments are proactively positioned for when the need arises.
Operation Prosper is the joint operation between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and SANDF. The deployment period is from 12 July to 12 October 2021.
The troop deployment aims for service in cooperation with the SAPS for the prevention and combating of crime and maintenance, and preservation of law and order in the Republic of South Africa.
Nchabeleng said since the deployment of the SANDF, the committee has seen laudable calm and stability, which gives them assurances that “our security is in good hands”.
“We appreciate the augmentation of the deployed soldiers and are reassured that there will be no similar flare-up,” Nchabeleng said.
Regarding the impact to the economy, the committee said there is a need to consider designating the N3 highway and other major arteries as critical infrastructure, to enable better and efficient protection of these roads.
The committee said it is cognisant of the recurring nature of disruptions, especially on the N3, and the impact it has on the economy, especially for the movement of goods from the Durban harbour to inland provinces and the rest of Africa.
“We appreciate the information that there is increased deployment and patrol on the N3 to counter any disturbance. This is critical to the functioning of the economy, especially as the country rebuilds from the devastation caused by COVID-19,” Xaba said.
The committee will on Tuesday and Wednesday visit both KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng to assess the rollout of Operation Prosper and the impact it is having on the ground.