The South African Defence Union (Sandu) said on Friday Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu should be removed from her post in the interests of South Africa and national security.
“The total disastrously foolish way in which unions within the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have been handled since her taking up the Ministry, simply speaks volumes for the lack of leadership and mature democratic vision that plagues the Department of Defence,” union spokesperson Pikkie Greeff said in a statement.
“Sandu will not be threatened and we will not be silenced,” he said.
The union’s statement came in response to comments by Sisulu on Friday that she would change the Constitution if she had to, to ban unions from the SA National Defence Force.
“What is disturbing is that in making these threats, she has been creating the impression that she is the self-appointed spokesperson of not only the Cabinet, but also the president and the African National Congress (ANC), without any of those institutions ever pronouncing on the issue,” Greeff said.
He said no decision was made at the Polokwane congress to ban any unions nor amend any part of the Constitution. President Jacob Zuma and Cabinet had also not made any decision of that sort.
Special Forces take a stand
The South African Special Forces Union (Sasfu) on Friday said that even if Sisulu wanted to change the constitution, it would be difficult to do so.
“Our position is that it’s very difficult to do that and very silly anyway to want to change it,” Sasfu president Bhekinkosi Mvovo told the South African Press Association.
“The truth is that changing it would end up affecting a lot of people, not just soldiers,” he said.
“We have to question the rationale in Zuma keeping the minister in her position when the [Cabinet] reshuffle happened … there is nothing that has been produced by her ministry,” Mvovo said.
Sisulu this week lost a court case with unions, after the North Gauteng High Court ruled that the procedure used to issue dismissal notices to some 1 000 soldiers who took part in an illegal strike at the Union Buildings earlier in the year was unconstitutional.
Sandu and Sasfu’s membership together total 31 500 of the defence force’s 56 000 permanent members. — Sapa