Opposition parties have expressed shock and anger at President Jacob Zuma’s deployment of 441 soldiers to help during Sona.
Zuma will address the nation at the opening of Parliament on Thursday and the presidency said his authorisation of the deployment of SANDF members to work with cops in Parliament from 5 to 10 February was for the maintenance of “law and order”.
The DA’s John Steenhuisen said the deployment of 441 soldiers with 6 000 police officers was unusual.
“SANDF always played a ceremonial role in the past at SONA,” he said.
“But this is the first time that they’re going to be deployed to maintain law and order,” Steenhuisen said.
“The people’s precinct has now been transformed to a precinct under martial law – there are only 400 members of Parliament and a public gallery. It’s completely unnecessary and over the top,” he said.
UDM’s Bantu Holomisa said this signified Zuma “is paranoid”.
“Where is the threat which allows soldiers to guard Parliament?” he asked.
Pikkie Greeff of the SA National Defence Union said: “It certainly is unprecedented.”
The EFF released a statement and condemned the “unleashing of the army on the people of South Africa”.
Spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said: “It must be seen as the declaration of War on citizens, which means Zuma is planning to murder those he disagrees with at the SONA”.
Zuma is expected to address an ANC rally just 5 minutes away from Parliament on the day of the Sona, before addressing the nation later on at night.
(edited by MLM)
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