Reason behind SONA troop deployment not for ‘public consumption’

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Reason behind SONA troop deployment not for ‘public consumption’

TMG Digital | 2017-02-09 08:30:46.0

Houses of Parliament, Cape Town. File photo.

Image by: Maryann Shaw/Gallo Images

The South African public will never know what level of threat required the employment of 441 soldiers in Cape Town for Thursday’s state of the nation address (SONA).

That’s according to secretary for defence and military veterans Dr Sam Gulube‚ who said on Thursday that the intelligence was not for “public consumption”.

This Presidency’s announcement on Tuesday night that Zuma had authorised the employment of 441 South African National Defence Force SANDF members to Parliament until Friday prompted outrage from opposition parties and civil rights groups.

The DA’s John Steenhuisen on Wednesday described it as the “securitisation of the parliamentary precinct” as “the deployment of SAPS members in Parliament during SONA events have increased nearly threefold over a decade‚ from 108 in 2004 to 296 in 2014”‚ while “SANDF members employed… increased from 168 in 2013‚ to 188 in 2015‚ to 441 in 2017”.

Gulube was quizzed on why Parliament’s presiding officers could not provide any explanation for the increased security presence at a live media briefing on Wednesday.

He told Radio 702: “The analysis of threat… it is a dynamic situation. I can wake up this morning and say‚ ‘Oh‚ the threat that was analysed yesterday‚ we think it has been mitigated‚ so we need to scale down on the number of troops’.”

Then added: “If you had to ask me now‚ ‘just give me those threats that have been analysed’‚ that information itself is not for public consumption‚ it’s classified information.”

Gulube said‚ while the level of threat was “dynamic”‚ when Zuma was asked to sign off on the amount of troops to be employed‚ “we have to give the president the number we would like to be on standby‚ we have to give the president the cost… in terms of putting those troops on standby”.

Parliament had issued a statement on Wednesday saying it had noted with “serious concern the misunderstanding that the declaratory order issued by the President… means that SONA will be under the command of the military”.



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