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EFF, DA condemn deployment of soldiers at #Sona2017

The Presidency announced the deployment of 441 South African National Defence Force members on Tuesday.

President Jacob Zuma, Bongi Zuma, Parliament Speaker Baleka Mbete and NCOP Chairperson Thandi Modise arrive at Parliament for the 2016 State of the Nation Address. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma’s decision to deploy more than 400 Defence Force members to help police maintain law and order for his State of the Nation Address (Sona) has come under fire.

The Presidency announced the deployment of 441 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members on Tuesday.

The members have been working with police since Sunday and will only step down on Friday.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it’s seeking an urgent meeting with National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and has condemned what it calls the 'militarisation' of this year’s Sona.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has described the move as 'a declaration of war'.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen says, “It’s quite ridiculous the extent they’re going to lock down the precinct. It really is quite over the top, draconian and harks back to the worst days of the security state in South Africa.”

The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says the move’s intended to intimidate the media and the EFF.

“In expressing serious concerns about the securitisation of the people’s Parliament, it’s regrettable and it must be condemned in the strongest terms.”

Deputy National Assembly Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli has defended the security measures as necessary following previous disruptions of Zuma’s annual address.

WATCH: EFF escorted out of #Sona2016

'A RECIPE FOR DISASTER'
The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) says Zuma's decision is a recipe for disaster.

The ISS's Johan Burger says the police have the capacity to deal with any violent scenes if correctly briefed beforehand.

“I don’t see why the military needs to be deployed with the police. The police has the capacity and this should be their responsibility.”

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)