As Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), President Jacob Zuma has authorised the deployment of more than two thousand soldiers around the country on Election Day on Wednesday as well as before and after voting.
“Government has put measures in place to ensure all citizens vote freely and safely. Citizens are encouraged to report any incidents of intimidation to law enforcement officers and police will act swiftly to bring all perpetrators to book. Firm action will be taken against anyone who breaks the law or who protests outside the norms of responsible, democratic protest,” a Presidency statement issued late on Monday said.
“Security will be highly visible to ensure no one is prevented from exercising their hard won democratic right of voting or participating in any political process leading to the elections.
“I have authorised the employment of more than two thousand members of the SANDF to assist the SA Police Service to maintain law and order in the run up to and during the elections in all nine provinces. They will be on duty until August 10,” the statement said.
Acting National Police Commissioner General Kgomotso Phahlane told a media briefing from Vuwani that the army does not do internal security but will be called if the need arises for a supporting role.
“We will not have boots on the ground from the SANDF because the policing of the elections is the mandate of the police. But the SANDF is playing a critical role as part of our cluster, the JCPS, and they are providing logistical support.”
More than 50 000 police officers will also be on duty at the 22 612 voting stations across the country with special emphasis on an identified 650 voting districts that have been identified as high risk areas.
An e-mailed request for details of military involvement in the 2016 local government elections to the SANDF’s Corporate Communications Directorate had not been answered by the time of publication. The Joint Operations Division said the defence force was on “standby”.
State Security Minister David Mahlobo said ahead of voting day tomorrow: “The security agencies of the country remain ready to ensure people are able to go out in conditions of peace.
“We are ready to make this election safe and secure. All forces are on the ground throughout the country and the NATJOINTS will be keeping a close eye on high risk areas,” he said.
According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) more than 26 million people are registered to vote tomorrow. They will vote for public representatives in 4 392 wards. All told 203 parties with 63 354 candidates and a further 855 independent candidates are standing for election to metro councils and municipalities.