July 20, 2024

SANDF’s Internal Deployment, Has Ramaphosa Lost Confidence In The SAPS

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Cele hails from KwaZulu-Natal, which, taking its cue from Zuma, of course, had thrown its weight behind the former.

FILE PHOTO: President Cyril Ramaphosa and Police Minister Bheki Cele walking out of the Pretoria Magistrate's Court. PICTURE: GCIS

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ANC leaders’ personal and intra-party factional interests have somewhat turned South Africa into a kakistocracy, writes MOLIFI TSHABALALA

A former South African president, Jacob Zuma, reshuffled his cabinet nearly every year. In 2017, the year in which his governing party, the African National Congress (ANC) held its 54th National Conference, he reshuffled it twice.

Zuma, who has been charged with 16 counts of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering, in essence, used a cabinet reshuffle as a tool to ‘secure’ what Frank Chikane describes as “personal, family or ‘gang’ interests” in his book entitled The Things That Could Not Be Said.

“In the long term,” wrote the freedom fighter who served as, among other positions in his thirteen-and-a-half years in an ANC-led government since 1994, secretary of the National Security Council (NSC), “a dynasty of criminal ‘gangs’ will be lined up to [further] secure their interests into the future.”

Although Zuma’s incumbent successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, does not reshuffle his cabinet as often as he did, he has also kept a few incompetent ministers for personal and intra-party factional interests.

One such incompetent cabinet member is Bheki Cele, a police minister, in what essentially constitutes factional clientelism, a reciprocal arrangement in which a patron secures electoral support from and loyalty of clients in return for benefits of patronage, chief among which office payoffs.

Many among his fellow Zulus in KwaZulu-Natal, where Zuma commands a great deal of ethno-Zulu nationalist support, questioned Cele why he had thrown his weight behind Ramaphosa, who is a Venda, for an ANC presidency, the police minister revealed three days before the party’s 54th National Conference got underway in Nasrec, Johannesburg, Gauteng.

Along with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, whom Ramaphosa defeated by 179 votes, Cele hails from KwaZulu-Natal, which, taking its cue from Zuma, of course, had thrown its weight behind the former.

In essence, ANC leaders’ personal and intra-party factional interests have somewhat turned South Africa into a kakistocracy. For example, Ramaphosa disregarded a clarion call to fire Cele.

In itself, the call is justified. With Cele at the helm, the South African Police Services (SAPS) has dismally failed to arrest a scourge of crime, more specifically, violent ones, such as robbery, murder, rape and sexual assault. As a result, the public in general has lost confidence in the SAPS.

Even the president himself has lost confidence in the SAPS if his deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to deal with major instances of organised crime that fall within its purview is anything to go by. In July 2019, he deployed 421 soldiers to gang-ridden areas in the Cape Flats, located to the southeast of the central business district of Cape Town, the Western Cape province, to assist the SAPS to bring about peace and stability.

By then, the murder rate in the province had shot up from 3 789 to 3 974 in the 2018/19 financial year. “Even if the crime statistics have dropped” during the SANDF’s near nine-month deployment under the banner of Operation Prosper, they “could not necessarily…be directly attributed to the role of the army,” asserted Dr Irvin Kinnes, a research associate at the University of Cape Town’s Centre of Criminology, addressing complexities of evaluating the joint army-police operation.

In July 2021, Ramaphosa deployed 25 000 soldiers to quell an unprecedented civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and some parts of Gauteng, dubbed the July 2021 Unrest, engendered by Zuma’s 15-month incarceration for disregarding the Constitutional Court’s orders to avail himself to a state capture commission and answer questions thereof.

Calling for his immediate release from Escort prison, a multitude of people in KwaZulu-Natal went on a rampage, burning and looting malls and warehouses.

In lieu of the SAPS for assistance, the president requested for the SANDF’s deployment, revealed a former defence minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, in her testimony before an inquiry into the July Unrest. She believes that the SAPS could arrest the situation.

Nevertheless, it appears that the July Unrest, which left over 350 people dead, the majority of whom in KwaZulu-Natal, was a rude awakening for Ramaphosa, who mischaracterised it as an “attempted insurrection” that “failed to gain popular support,” that the SAPS is incapable to maintain law and order.

Inordinately, his government responded to a peaceful national shutdown by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a third-largest party, over a power crisis and an equally pressing set of national challenges, including crime, deploying 3 474 soldiers to lend the thousands of police officers a hand to man the streets countrywide at a whopping R166 million to taxpayers.

In addition to the above, scores of soldiers have been deployed at Eskom’s power stations and some major national roads, where trucks have been torched, to prevent so-called economic sabotage.

Yet calls by residents, who have of course lost confidence in the police, for the army’s deployment in their communities to root out illegal artisan miners, infamously known as ‘zama zamas,’ have fallen on deaf ears. The illegal artisan miners have terrorised the communities in which they operate.

***Molifi Tshabalala is an author and independent political analyst.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Republic Mail and its associates.

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