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”.