Freedom Front Plus
Freedom Front Plus

SANDF shows its true calibre with conduct during Covid-19

(Debate in parliament: Adjustment Budget for Defence)

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) showed its true colours and calibre with its conduct during the current Covid-19 pandemic and this new norm has a name, it is called Colins Khosa.

To this can be added the conduct of the head of the defence force, Gen. Solly Shoke, who brought the SANDF into disrepute without any action being taken against him.

A few months ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa used his powers in terms of the Constitution to deploy members of the defence force to help in the fight against Covid-19. On the 25th of March, he deployed 2 820 soldiers and later he deployed a total of 76 000 soldiers, which is basically the entire defence force at a cost of approximately R6 billion. Now it has been reduced again.

It is incomprehensible that when the spread of the virus was not as extensive, nearly the entire defence force was deployed. But now that the pandemic has nearly reached its peak in South Africa, the number of deployed members has been reduced to 20 000. This raises the question of whether it was sensible and justified to initially deploy nearly the entire defence force?

When one considers the conduct of the defence force chief, Gen. Shoke, one cannot help but wonder if there could be any expectation that his soldiers will act any differently? Can ordinary members of the defence force be expected to demonstrate acceptable behaviour when the chief addresses them on national TV using inappropriate language when referring to how they should treat the public? (‘Skop ‘n d….’).

The FF Plus has brought these statements to the attention of President Ramaphosa along with video footage as well as other video footage depicting soldiers repeating the statements and executing the command. It is a shame and a blemish on the reputation of the SANDF. Gen. Shoke should have resigned immediately.

And yet neither the President nor the Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, said a word about it and no action was taken against him.

Another big mistake was made when President Ramaphosa wore a defence force uniform with the deployment of the soldiers in the fight against Covid-19. The President is indeed the country's armed forces' commander in chief, but symbolically he is also seen as the leader of all the people of South Africa who must strike a balance between ordinary civilians and the armed forces.

President Ramaphosa and Minister Mapisa-Nqakula have let the people of South Africa down by allowing order and discipline to be undermined. It is unacceptable.

Likewise, the SANDF's adjusted budget of approximately R52,4 billion for 2020/21 is inadequate. For the past 15 years, the FF Plus has repeatedly pointed out that the budget is not enough to keep the defence force from deteriorating even further.

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