EFF leader Julius Malema has questioned the strength of the South African intelligence community following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s deployment of the army for a month.
Ramaphosa deployed the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in the wake of reports that the EFF’s national shutdown might result in anarchy characterised by looting, vandalism, and loss of life.
The deployment of more than 3 000 SANDF members has cost the taxpayers R160 million.
However, Malema has slated intelligence operatives for allegedly misinforming the president, a move he said had resulted in fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
“We are in parliament and we will be questioning the rationality and the deployment of soldiers and the amount of monies that are going to be spent on the soldiers that are on the streets now.
“From its beginning, the national shutdown was declared that it was going to be one day, and as to a month’s deployment, I don’t understand what informs that. Dealing with the criminals that we are dealing with, (it) might be an opportunity for them to loot.
“In the army, ordinarily, and in many instances, we never get to the bottom of how money gets spent in the army. That is where it is very easy for a corrupt government to exploit that opportunity and steal the money,” Malema said.
Malema said although they did not want to undermine the South African army, Ramaphosa ought to have been better informed.
“It is for the South Africans to see that we have no president at all. We have no crime intelligence. We have no state security and we have no army intelligence because someone should have said to them, ‘Stop being jokes.’
“We started together when we were announcing the national shutdown. We announced it through you. Not once have we ever started talking about violence,” Malema said.
It is not the first time that the effectiveness of the South African intelligence community has come into question.
In July 2021, massive looting and destruction of property took place in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, resulting in the deaths of more than 300 people.
The riots, or what has been termed the July Unrest, followed the direct imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma by the Constitutional Court, which was accessed directly on behalf of State Capture Commission chairperson Justice Raymond Zondo.
Zuma was sentenced to prison for a period of 15 months.
The damage to infrastructure was estimated at R50 billion, leading to the South African Human Rights Commission warning that such events should never be repeated.
The security cluster was found wanting, with ministers blaming one another for failing to communicate about the riots before they happened.
As a result, Ramaphosa fired former Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and replaced her with former National Assembly Speaker Minister Thandi Modise in a cabinet reshuffle meant to appease the anger of South Africans.
The State Security Minister at the time, Ayanda Dlodlo, was moved to the Ministry of Public Service and Administration, where she resigned and joined the World Bank.
Ramaphosa decided to absorb State Security into his office under the Minister in the Presidency portfolio, formerly led by Mondli Gungubele and his deputy responsible for intelligence, Zizi Kodwa.
During the recent cabinet reshuffle, Gungebele was moved to the Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies while Kodwa was moved to the Ministry of Sports, Arts, and Culture.
Former Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, is now in charge of the ministry in the presidency.