Zuma: Everyone wants to run the country

President Jacob Zuma says officials must be allowed the space to do their jobs without interference.

President Jacob Zuma addresses the memorial service at the Swartkop Air Force Base in Pretoria on 2 April, 2013 for the 13 SANDF soldiers killed in the CAR 2013. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN

PRETORIA - President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday said there were too many people trying to run South Africa, saying questions about military strategy posed a risk to national security.

Earlier, Zuma spoke at a memorial service at the Swartkop Air Force Base in Pretoria to honour 13 soldiers who died in the Central African Republic (CAR) while fighting thousands of rebels.

Close to 30 others were wounded during the battle.

Questions about why the troops were sent to the CAR continued to be raised, with reports that private business deals lay at the heart of the deployment.

The ANC has consistently dismissed the reports.

The commander who led the troops in battle, Steven Jiyane, said the soldiers fought "ferociously like lions" but were ambushed and had to take cover while retreating back to base.

"The crack of the AK47, the rumble of the motors and the thump of the RBG7 only shook their characters. At no moment did they succumb."

Zuma said there was a deliberate attempt to distort a noble mission.

He said government should be given space to make decisions.

"The problem in South Africa is that everyone wants to run the country."

Zuma said unfounded allegations and conspiracy theories were being peddled.

"Military matters are military matters. They are not social matters and I wish South Africans would appreciate that and therefore know which line not to cross, for the sake of the country."

The families of the soldiers said the service brought some relief.

Click here to read President Jacob Zuma's message to the fallen soldiers' families.

Watch a video report on President Jacob Zuma's address here