SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief, General Solly Shoke, maintains a SA National Defence Union (Sandu) statement on President’s Jacob Zuma’s apparent violation of the Constitution is “provocative and incites soldiers, which is illegal”.
On Friday the military trade union, which claims to represent about 19 000 soldiers, said it was “despicable that the President, as Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF, has transgressed the very Constitution which the defence force he commands, is constitutionally charged with upholding”.
Sandu national secretary Pikkie Greeff said in a statement that “given the ruling made [by the Constitutional Court with regards to his Nkandla homestead], the President can no longer be considered a fit and proper person to remain SANDF Commander-in-Chief, nor can any of the Members of Parliament who so stubbornly protected him in his questionable endeavours against the Public Protector’s findings be considered as fit and proper persons to hold office”.
He encouraged all members of South African society “including soldiers to participate in their private capacity and time in any lawful mass action campaigns which might be called to recall or remove Zuma from office”.
In a statement issued in response by the SANDF corporate communications directorate, headed by Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, Shoke said he views the military trade union’s statement in “a seriousl light” because it incites soldiers, which is an illegal act.
The last time SANDF members were apparently incited was in 2009 when allegations were made that soldiers had gone AWOL (absent without official leave) to protest wages and living conditions at the Union Buildings. The protest turned violent with vehicles and equipment belonging to the Tshwane metro police being damaged during confrontations between soldiers and police in Church Street below the national administrative seat of government.
Initially more than a thousand SANDF members were put on special leave, but to date charges of AWOL have been withdrawn against around 600 and it appears no other charges will be pressed against those still on special leave after rounds of special military court hearings in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.