Army won’t turn against Zuma: Defence Minister

Parliament – Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Wednesday appealed to politicians to refrain from inciting the country’s soldiers in an apparent reference to Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema’s comments that the country’s army would turn against President Jacob Zuma and his government.

“I have on several occasions appealed to all members in this House to resist the dangerous temptation of playing politics with an important asset such as the SANDF,” Mapisa-Nqakula said while delivering her budget speech in Parliament.

“No one should be allowed to even insinuate that this military can be used to pursue the political agendas of any party.”

She said soldiers were not meant to interfere in politics.

“The entire leadership of the Defence Force, and its dedicated women and men, are committed to this effort of fostering stability and peace, not only here at home, but in the entire continent,” said the minister.

“The South African National Defence Force [SANDF] is non-partisan and remains loyal to the Constitution and the people of this country. I would like to thank members both in uniform and civilian who have remained true to these values.”

During the EFF manifesto launch in Soweto last month, Malema said: “I am whispering to you, Zuma, wherever you are, those soldiers are going to turn their guns against you.”

Malema also claimed that both the SANDF and the police service was “full of EFF people”.

During a media briefing prior to tabling her budget, Mapisa-Nqakula said Malema’s utterances were “reckless” and “irresponsible”.

“When you talk you have to be very, very careful how people may interpret what you are saying. You could be seen as actually inciting the soldiers to turn arms against he State,” she said.

Mapisa-Nqakula was adamant the country’s armed forces was made up of patriotic South Africans and there was no chance they would get involved in politics.

“We’ve never heard or picked up when we’ve had political challenges in our country that the defence force has been party to those challenges, or they’ve decided to be partisan,” she said.

“For now there is no possibility, maybe in the next 20 years yes, [but] for now we have no information that this defence force consists of people who are not loyal to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and therefore would easily take [up] arms against the State.”

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