Cape Town – Opposition parties on Friday criticised Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu's decision to let senior members of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), including its controversial president Julius Malema, do military training.
Democratic Alliance defence spokesperson David Maynier said in a statement that Sisulu had made a "serious error of judgement" in agreeing to allow Malema to undergo two weeks of military training in the SA National Defence Force.
The decision risked politicising the SANDF and undermining its principle of non-partisanship. He called on Sisulu to reverse it.
"The fact is that the defence force should not be used to support what amounts to little more than a political stunt by Julius Malema and the ANCYL," Maynier said.
In a joint statement on Thursday, the defence department and the youth league said Sisulu had agreed to make arrangements for the league's national executive committee and its president to undergo military training in September.
This was in support of Sisulu's campaign for national service for unemployed youths.
In a separate statement on Friday, the Freedom Front Plus said Sisulu was abusing her power and that her decision "sets the danger lights flicking".
The party's defence spokesperson Pieter Groenewald said the decision proved that Sisulu and her party were "totally out of touch" with the uncertainties and concerns of white South Africans.
"Malema likes to sing 'Kill the Boer', and the question is now whether he will receive training to do be able to do that..."
"The minister fools herself if she thinks the ANC youth members will learn discipline – they will be even more arrogant as they think that they are now being empowered and can handle firearms," he said.
In a statement on Friday, AfriForum Youth - the youth movement of trade union Solidarity’s civil rights initiative, AfriForum - said it was considering legal action to investigate whether the proposed military training of the ANCYL leadership was constitutional.
"The implication of the training would be that taxpayers would sponsor the training of a single party's members only, as they will be making exclusive use of state facilities and equipment -- an opportunity not accessible to the rest of the country's residents."
This, it said, "contravenes the basic principles of democracy and the Constitution".