South Africa to deploy 10,000 troops to secure vote

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorised the deployment of 10,000 soldiers to secure next week’s local government elections, parliament announced Wednesday.

The military will help the police to ensure “a safe and secure environment” for Monday’s polling to elect municipal councillors and mayors, National Assembly said in a statement.

The polls follow deadly riots and looting in July sparked by the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma.

The unprecedented unrest overwhelmed the police, prompting the deployment of some 25,000 troops.

The latest deployment will start Saturday and last five days.

Police have reported eight deaths, mostly councillor candidates, since campaigning started, while voting day itself is expected to be peaceful.

But the July protests, started by diehard Zuma supporters before snowballing into violent unrest and the ransacking of businesses, exposed underlying social and economic conditions of ordinary South Africans.

The African National Congress-led government, which has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, is fighting to regain its popularity since suffering its worst electoral setback during the last local polls in 2016.