7 January 2013

South Africa: President Must Comply With Constitution in Informing Parliament of SANDF Deployment to the CAR

Photo: IRIN
South African soldiers

press release

It was announced yesterday that President Jacob Zuma has authorised the deployment of 400 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) personnel to the Central African Republic (CAR) for the period of 2 January 2013 to 31 March 2018.

However, according to the Secretary of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, no communication has been received yet to inform Parliament of the deployment.

Section 201(3) of the Constitution requires that Parliament be informed "promptly and in appropriate detail" by the President whenever the defence force is deployed. And Section 201(4) of the Constitution requires that an appropriate oversight committee be informed if Parliament does not sit during the first seven days after the defence force is deployed.

The President is also required, by section 18(4) of the Defence Act of 2002, to provide any information as to expenditure incurred or expected to be incurred by the deployment of the SANDF. Given the extended period of this latest deployment of SANDF personnel to the CAR, the expenditure that this will entail is particularly pertinent.

The President has, on a number of previous occasions, failed to account timeously to Parliament on such military matters, only sending letters to the Speaker informing him of the deployment of the SANDF well after deployment had commenced.

We therefore call on the President to comply with the provisions of the Constitution and ensure that Parliament receives the relevant notification so that the Joint Standing Committee on Defence can debate the merits of the deployment of the SANDF to the CAR.

Shahid Esau, DA Deputy Spokesperson on Defence and Military Veterans

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