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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: Centre for Constitutional Rights by Phephelaphi Dube.]

In view of recent developments and unfolding events in South Africa’s neighbour, Zimbabwe, it is perhaps the opportune moment to examine the role of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) within South Africa’s constitutional democracy. As with most nations, South Africa maintains a military force, which in terms of the Constitution, is meant to “provide for the defence of the Republic”. The Defence Act further sets out the parameters on how the military interacts with civil society. The SANDF is above party-politics and is non-partisan. Importantly, the SANDF is subject to civilian oversight, as well as control by the Minister of Defence.

The Constitution further establishes the governing principles of South Africa’s national security as reflecting the resolve “to live as equals, to live in peace and harmony, to be free from fear and want and to seek a better life”.

Accountability, responsiveness and openness are foundational values which underpin the nation and are equally applicable to the SANDF. Further, the SANDF by virtue of being a national institution, is dependent on public funds for its work and this requires that its operations be open and transparent. Due to the sheer potential of its military might, SANDF affairs will always be in the nation’s public interest and this makes transparency the overriding consideration in how the SANDF conducts itself.

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South Africa at a Glance
57 700 000 (mid 2018 estimate)
4.5% y/y in December 2018 (CPI) & +5.2 y/y in December 2018 (PPI)
2.2% q/q (3rd quarter of 2018)
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