Contribution in the National Assembly Virtual Mini-Plenary by Bantu Holomisa, MP and UDM President

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Honourable Speaker
Honourable Minister and Deputy Minister
Honourable Members

The UDM supports the budget.

Events of the recent past indicate that the SANDF’s (South African National Defence Force) mandate or focus, from protecting us from foreign aggression, has somewhat shifted.

Here I think of examples like the July 2021 mayhem in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, the devastating KwaZulu-Natal floods (KZN), and the Covid-19 lockdown deployment.

Looking at some of the SANDF’s interactions with the public during some of those times, it is clear that our service men and women are not properly trained to deal with civilians; or would not be able to deal with the public should there be a civil uprising.

The issue of proper equipment in such situations is of concern i.e. was it necessary to deploy tanks in built-up areas during the July 2021 mayhem. It would be better if purpose-built vehicles were available.

Tardiness in deploying is another worry e.g., during the KZN floods it took far too long to see activity. The lack of state of readiness creates questions and anxiety amongst the citizenry.

The fact that the state intelligence has lost the initiative is of great concern. To further muddle matters, the state security machinery is heavily involved in the politics of the ruling party.

The fact that our intelligence bodies are failing to identify the saboteurs of Eskom and railways, as well as the discovery of illegal mining is affecting our country’s investment potential.

But the question is do we have officers with enough training and experience that could turn the situation around?

South Africa has signed several bilateral agreements, since 1994, where other countries have agreed to assist with the training of our conventional warfare.

They could be approached to help us to, efficiently and professionally, handle this new phenomenon of crises on home soil.

Honourable Minister, I would urge you, as a new minister, to fight for the allocation of a proper budget. Complaints over insufficient equipment are rife, for instance the simplest thing like uniforms and being transported to violent operations in buses. This is bad for morale.

I thank you.