Wednesday, May 25, 2016

South Africa's military and judicial supremacy

The following article suggests a coming crisis in judicial oversight of military personnel actions in South Africa:
South African National Defence Force (SANDF) chief Solly Shoke says he will approach the court to seek clarity on the jurisdiction of civilian courts to intervene in military disciplinary matters.
He was speaking at briefing in Pretoria yesterday, where he announced the recall to duty of about 500 soldiers who have been on special leave since 2009.
The members were part of violent protests at the Union Buildings.
The South African National Defence Union (SANDU) has on several occasions successfully challenged the lawfulness of the disciplinary action taken against the soldiers.
Shoke says the SANDF wanted to deal with the matters as quickly as possible, but they’ve been frustrated by continued court action.
“I will be approaching the courts so that we can address the boundary issues as it impacts discipline in the Defence Force.”
Shoke says that he’s not ruled out the possibility of further attempts to discipline the soldiers.
He adds the main reason for the recall was his discomfort with paying soldiers who are sitting at home.
SANDU says the soldiers have been at home for the past 80 months, at a salary bill of about R7 million a month.
The history of miscues on the part of SANDF's personnel management apparatus has seemed fairly obvious, and the notion of placing blame on the courts strikes one as a clear case of blaming the messenger. The courts have several times rejected SANDF's attempts to apply procedural shortcuts in dealing with the demonstrators. Also, last time we looked, the country had no military judges who could actually preside at courts-martial.

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