The need for military oversight to be probed by SU webinar

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A Stellenbosch University (SU) arranged webinar set down for Thursday (27 June) will look into the need for oversight of South African military deployments and operations internally as well as continentally.

Titled “South Africa’s growing military footprint in regional and domestic affairs: some explanations and oversight matters” webinar organisers note “the military is central to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG 16) [set by the United Nations (UN) in 2015], which focuses, among others on the need to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, free from fear and all forms of violence”.

Countries and the international community, according to the webinar organisers, have the responsibility to protect their citizens from crimes against humanity and mass atrocities. “In this regard, South Africa deployed military contingents under the SADC (Southern African Development Community) banner to intervene in armed conflicts in DR Congo (SAMIDRC) alongside the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) assisting the UN and in Mozambique (SAMIM) where a violent insurgency is leading to the loss of lives and a humanitarian crisis.”

Inside the country, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) “is increasingly deployed in domestic operations, to mitigate domestic threats and vulnerabilities”. These include Vala Umgodi, supporting police in efforts to curb illegal mining as well as protection of national key points (NKPs) as set out in the Protection of Critical Infrastructure Act which replaced the apartheid era National Key Points Act.

“To ensure the military complies with the mandate given it, meets its obligations and does not overstep its boundaries, all deployments whether external or internal are subject to parliamentary or civil oversight. Oversight ensures the military is subject to scrutiny, does not abuse its authority and serves the interests of the societies they are commissioned to protect.

The webinar will focus on the connection between SDG 16 and the importance of civilian oversight, “especially in the context of an expanding domestic deployment of the [South African] military”.

Speakers are SU Professor Lindy Heinecken on responsibility to protect, SDG 16 and the need for oversight; Dr Wilhelm Janse van Rensburg, Security Institute for Governance and Leadership in Africa (SIGLA), Faculty of Military Science, SU, on political oversight over domestic operations with input from Murmur Analytics; and SU Professor Francois Vreÿ, Associate Professor of Military Strategy, Faculty of Military Science.

The webinar is scheduled to run from 13h30 to 15h00 and registrations can be done via Webinar on military oversight: 27 June 2024.