Ramaphosa still needs parliament’s permission to deploy SANDF_1

President Cyril Ramaphosa has seven days to inform parliament about his deployment of the army to help the SA Police Service enforce the coronavirus lockdown. According to an expert, without parliament’s approval, the process could be rendered illegal or a violation of the constitution. Although Ramaphosa has the prerogative to deploy the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), he still needed to inform parliament, which must endorse or reject it within seven days. The matter would be referred to the joint standing committee on defence. Standing committee co-chair Cyril Xaba said they expected the president to give the committee a report...
President Cyril Ramaphosa has seven days to inform parliament about his deployment of the army to help the SA Police Service enforce the coronavirus lockdown.

According to an expert, without parliament’s approval, the process could be rendered illegal or a violation of the constitution.

Although Ramaphosa has the prerogative to deploy the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), he still needed to inform parliament, which must endorse or reject it within seven days. The matter would be referred to the joint standing committee on defence.

Standing committee co-chair Cyril Xaba said they expected the president to give the committee a report that included details of the deployment, such as its purpose, numbers of soldiers and budget.

Seven days had not elapsed and the president could still inform parliament.

“The country is facing a crisis … we think there is a need for drastic action.

“The president needed more manpower, the soldiers are there… We agree with measures that are to save lives,” Xaba said.

But an influential ANC member with parliamentary experience was worried that, since parliament was not sitting, it could be a problem unless an urgent session was convened.

“Parliament is closed now; how did this decision come around. Anyone can take us to the Constitutional Court and we lose,” he said.

“Historically [Ramaphosa] is the first president to put the constitution aside … to fight crime and deal with a health disaster. That is how we will judge him, as an architect of the same constitutional democracy,” he said.

The politician said Ramaphosa was hiding behind the health issue to interfere with human rights.

“So, securocrats are in charge, yet the human rights are long-term. Not even once did he show which clause of the constitution he used for the pandemic except to refer to a Municipality Act,” he said.

Similarly, apartheid implementers claimed they were doing it for the good of the nation.

Political analyst and constitutional expert Prof Pierre de Vos said: “The president is elected by parliament and is accountable to it. It is for this reason that the constitution requires him or her to inform parliament of the momentous decision to deploy soldiers inside South Africa and to do so in appropriate detail… If parliament is unhappy with the deployment, it can call the president to parliament to account.

“Ultimately, the National Assembly has the power to remove the president from office if it feels the deployment of soldiers inside South Africa is politically unwise, or undesirable,” De Vos said.

ericn@citizen.co.za

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