Army conscription may return in South Africa: report

Young South Africans may be forced to attend a compulsory military programme as soon as 2016, according to a report by the City Press.

An ANC-led alliance has reportedly begun pushing for the return of military conscription in the country, in a bid to contain youth unemployment and also instill discipline, patriotism and volunteerism into young people from the ages of 18.

South Africa ended military conscription in 1994 with the birth of democracy in the country.

According to the City Press, however, plans are being made to finalise details of a youth service programme that could see government sending young people, from the age of 18, to the army for military training.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe previously told the paper that he would support the reintroduction of conscription, saying the country moved away from the system “too soon”.

“The army is the most equipped structure that could deal with young people in a structured way. Actually, the best engineering capacity in the country is in the army. So that’s what we should be thinking about,” he was quoted saying.

Although reintroducing conscription may go against the spirit of the Constitution, Mantashe said “the country must do what it needs to do for the country to work”.

The exercise would not have a primarily military aim, the paper said, but rather to encourage youth to formally volunteer and be of service to people, while gaining skills.

The draft plan would still need to be approved by the deputy minister in the presidency, Buti Manamela, before it can be tabled in Cabinet for a final decision.

The deadline for the full-roll out of the programme is June 2016, the City Press reported.

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