South Africa deploys military on election day amid security concerns

Wednesday May 29 2024
Election posters

A man walks past election posters of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), as South Africa prepares for the May 29 general elections, in Soweto, South Africa, May 24, 2024. Reuters


South Africa is deploying more than 2,800 troops to violence-prone areas of the country as authorities try to deal with incidents of insecurity on voting day (today) and beyond.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday authorised the deployment of 2,828 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to maintain security on Wednesday as the country's more than 27 million voters decide which party or coalition will lead them in the future.

Presidency spokesman Vincent Magwenya said on Tuesday that Ramaphosa had informed the National Assembly of the deployment, which is estimated to cost taxpayers nearly $3 million.

"President Ramaphosa has informed the Acting Speaker of the National Assembly and the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces that the employment of SANDF personnel will form part of Operation PROSPER and applies from 20 May to 7 June 2024," Magwenya said, referring to an operation where the military collaborates with the police to fight crime.

"This employment is authorised in accordance with the provisions of (of the law)."

Law enforcement agencies have been on high alert as the much-anticipated election season gets underway, closely monitoring activities and preparing for potential security challenges. 


On Wednesday, some 27.7 million voters are expected to flock to polling stations across the country to decide whether the ruling African National Congress (ANC) will remain in power.

Normally, the party with the largest majority in parliament forms the government and its leader becomes the country's president.

Some pollsters have signalled the possibility of a coalition government, with early indications suggesting that the ANC may win the vote but not enough to form a government.

The immediate problem, however, is how to stamp out insecurity in a country where violent crime has become commonplace.

This is the seventh democratic general election since the end of white-minority rule under apartheid.

The African National Congress (ANC) has been in power since 1994.

In the run-up to the elections, the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster assured the public that stringent measures were in place to ensure the smooth running of the national elections.

The cluster, a grouping of government agencies involved in the fight against crime and corruption, said it had been working with the government to address any existing or potential threats that could undermine the integrity and orderly conduct of the elections.

Former president Jacob Zuma's uMkhonto weSizwe party had earlier warned that violence could break out if Mr Zuma's face did not appear on the ballot paper.

In response, SA Police Minister Bheki Cele said there would be zero tolerance for any acts of anarchy and violence on polling day.