08/02/2017 03:37 GMT | Updated 08/02/2017 03:57 GMT

The EFF Says The SANDF's Presence At Sona Is A 'Declaration Of War'

Opposition parties have reacted with outrage at the deployment of 441 soldiers to Parliament.

Alet Pretorius/Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images
President Jacob Zuma during the Mandela Commemoration Medal Parade at the Waterkloof Airforce Base on December 7, 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa.

Political parties on Tuesday questioned the legality of President Jacob Zuma's move to have 441 soldiers help police maintain "law and order" at the opening of Parliament.

"Actions of JZ in deploying the army can't be legal, violate the separation of powers, 4 personal use. I have asked our legal team to engage," DA leader Mmusi Maimane tweeted.

Party spokesperson Mabine Seabe said the party would demand answers about the purpose and cost of the deployment.

The presidency said in a statement on Tuesday that the South African National Defence Force members would help SAPS "maintain law and order" during Zuma's State of the Nation Address on Thursday.

The EFF said the move was a "declaration of war" on the country's citizens.

"The military are people who get deployed for war and whose training is about killing the enemies of the state," spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said.

The country had a duty to defend Parliament as a house of the people. It did not belong to Zuma, he said.

"Zuma has no constitutional mandate to impose law and order on Parliament; this is a direct violation of the separation of powers. Parliament's precinct must be respected as sacrosanct, with only the Speaker, in consultation with Members of Parliament, who can authorise security measures, not Zuma."

No amount of security and intimidation would stop the EFF from holding Zuma accountable in terms of the Constitution, Ndlozi said.

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said it was a breach of the separation of powers.

"The executive cannot deploy the army to another branch of government -- the legislature. Imagine if the president deployed 450 soldiers to the Constitutional Court while it was busy deciding whether the 'State of Capture' report was valid. In both cases, it would be an outrage," he said. -- News24