DOI condemns use of SANDF during SONA

The Dullah Omar Institute joins civil society organisations concerned about the state of our democracy in condemning the deployment of 441 members of the SANDF to maintain law and order during this week’s State of the Nation Address.

The deployment of the SANDF to accentuate the importance of the Head of State’s address to the Nation, through Parliament, and to celebrate the opening of the Legislature’s annual cycle with a display of ceremony and protocol is important and appropriate. However, to shift the SANDF’s purpose from the ceremonial display of state sovereignty, to the restraint of civic engagement, freedom of expression and the right to peacefully assemble, is extremely worrying. It goes against everything Parliament stands for.

Parliament is a place where the people’s representatives publicly debate the laws, policies and decisions government takes. It is a place where citizens, communities and the media are, as far as reasonably possible, welcome to observe and engage their elected representatives. South Africans should be proud of Parliament’s rich history of being an assembly that combines representative and participatory democracy. We call upon the Presidency to revoke the authorisation to use the SANDF for security purposes during the State of the Nation Address.

A People’s Parliament should not require armed soldiers as security officers.

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