The Right2Know condemns in the strongest possible terms the unprecedented security clampdown in and around Parliament as part of the State of the Nation Address.
On Tuesday evening the Presidency announced that Jacob Zuma had called in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to help “maintain law and order” at the opening of Parliament. In total, 441 SANDF members will be deployed.
The public deserves answers to some basic questions: what legitimate security threats exist that justify deploying the military? What functions will they perform? How many police are being deployed, from which areas, and what are the safety implications for communities that have fewer police on the streets as a result?
The deployment of the army is part of a longer trend of securitisation and militarisation. Each year, we have seen the securocrats ramping up ‘security measures’ around Parliament to new levels – and each time the public is told that this is ‘normal’. Hundreds of police, called from across the country to the streets around Parliament. Barbed wire and water cannons to meet protesters. Riot police to drag out troublemaking MPs. Signal jamming from the State Security Agency. Interference with the television and audio feed. Restrictions on the movement of journalists. Calling in the army is part of that trend.
We are told that this is normal. But there is nothing normal about this.
These are features of a clampdown, with the aim of shielding Zuma from political embarrassment and shutting out voices of dissent. It is not just in Parliament. It is on our streets, and in our communities. It is on our campuses too. These shows of force are the efforts of paranoid and fearful leaders, whose insecurity threatens everyone’s freedoms. And if we do not challenge the creep of securocratic tendencies into our democratic spaces, it continue until there is no democracy left.
Whatever Zuma says in his address on Thursday night, this is the real state of our nation.
Note to editors: R2K Western Cape will be joining pickets on highway bridges for the State of the Nation Address, calling for a Stop to the Secret Nuclear Deal: http://www.r2k.org.za/2017/02/07/stop-the-secret-nuclear-deal-2/