South Africa: Demobilization into the Cold

  • Gwinyayi Albert Dzinesa
Part of the Rethinking Political Violence book series (RPV)


This chapter examines South Africa’s DDR process, which was owned and operated locally by the state. This particular pattern was the result of a negotiated transition to democracy in 1994 following no serious military engagement inside South Africa. Asymmetries that existed at the moment of the transition precluded the replication of aspects of the Zimbabwean DDR model. Although South Africa’s liberation forces were split, they were never as militarized, nor at comparable levels of politico-military capabilities as in Zimbabwe. There were problems of asymmetries between South Africa’s liberation forces and the apartheid regime’s formidable South African Defence Force (SADF). The military negotiations, mainly between the apartheid government and the African National Congress (ANC), left the SADF intact and led to the absorption of liberation forces into SADF structures. South Africa’s rush to transform the defence force, while strategic to ensure the ANC-led government’s political control particularly in the context of the early fears of a military coup by the right wing, relegated the plan of a DDR programme. The government’s subsequent reintegration strategy mirrored the Zimbabwe and Namibia models in terms of the provision of a cash payment and vocational training, including some of the programmatic mistakes. Renewed government efforts to address the problems of reintegration were not inspired by ex-combatant protests but came after the veterans of the ANC’s former military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) assumed a visible role in the ruling party’s internal power dynamics leading to Jacob Zuma’s election as the president of South Africa in 2009. Zuma reorganized the country’s defence ministry into Defence and Military Veterans, entailing separate administrative and budget structures tasked with the concerns of war veterans, which are now at the heart of the ANC’s political decision making. The department is currently responsible for facilitating the rollout of government-funded financial, health, education, burial and housing benefits to veterans in accordance with the provisions of the Military Veterans Act 18 of 2011.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gwinyayi Albert Dzinesa
    • 1
  1. 1.Freelance Peace and Security ResearcherJohannesburgSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations