South Africa: Parliament Says No Soldier Among the 441 Soldiers Will Be Deployed With the Parliamentary Precinct for the 2017 SONA

We have noted with serious concern the mis-understanding that the declaratory order issued by the President, employing 441 members of the South African Defence Force to Parliament, means that the State of the Nation Address (SONA) will be under the command of the military.

As part of planning for SONA, Parliament engages with the relevant departments in the executive at national, provincial and local levels. These Departments include the South African National Defence Force that has a ceremonial role to play. Upon the request of the South African Police Services, the South African National Defence Force is sometimes deployed to support the police in exercising their safety and security function, such as the case in point.

When such a request has been made and the President of the Republic has issued a declaratory order, it is procedural that the President advises the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA) and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), as has occurred.

The Speaker of the NA and the Chairperson of the NCOP dully table the declaratory order in the Announcement, Tabling and Committee Reports (ATC). The ATC was issued today for both houses of Parliament.

In this regard the South African Defence Force will not be deployed within the precincts of Parliament and the Chamber. The only time that may happen is when there is a threat to life and property, that is of such a nature that the South African Police cannot handle. Their deployment in this regard will be at the request of the South African Police Services. In turn the SAPS can only act at the behest of the Presiding Officers, except in instances where there is a total breakdown of law and order that threatens life and property.

Source: South African Government