CAPE TOWN March 27 Sapa

SANDF PERSONNEL TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL FOREVER: KASRILS

Everyone in the SA National Defence Force, from troops to the top brass, will go back to school soon to be inculcated with respect for democratic values, Deputy Defence Minister Ronnie Kasrils said in Cape Town on Thursday.

Unveiling the SANDF's new civic education programme, he said the new curriculum would also be presented to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to show "the extent to which we intend to transform".

Transformation was not simply about structural changes, nor greater representivity, but also ensuring that the ethos of the defence force changed to reflect the fundamental values of the new democratic society.

Just as the SANDF needed modern equipment, so too it needed a modern mindset consistent with the principles of the country's constitutional democracy.

The curriculum's guidelines drafted over a year by a task group comprising civilian, military and parliamentary representatives had been formally approved by Parliament's defence committee this week.

The programme would apply to full-, part-time and reserve personnel.

"Never again will this country see the kind of atrocities that were committed by the security forces under the previous regime."

The programme was aimed at:

- Ensuring that the department of defence and the SANDF adhered to constitutional principles, democratic values and the law;

- Ensuring that military personnel treated each other and members of the public with respect and dignity;

- Enhancing military professionalism;

- Building public confidence and pride in the SANDF;

- Building loyalty, unity, discipline and morale within the SANDF; and

- Preparing the SANDF to fulfil the country's international obligations.

The curriculum covers the key features of the democratic political process, the constitution and Bill of Rights, civil-military relations in a democracy, international humanitarian law, respect for cultural diversity, and military professionalism in a democracy.

It was hoped to inculcate a respect for human rights, non-discrimination, political non-partisanship, and civil supremacy over the armed forces.

The first lectures would begin by July and the curriculum would be implemented in full by the start of 1998.

The programme would be tailored according to the rank and function of military personnel and would be part of an ongoing process.


South African Press Association, 1997
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