Margaret C. Lee
By the end of the 1970s, the South African Defense Force (SADF) was playing a very significant role in the maintenance of the white supremacist state. In fact, many have argued that during most of the 1980s the military was in effect running the country. When F. W. de Klerk came to power in 1989, he began to recapture the state from the military. While official governmental structures were returned to civilian control, the military continued to play a major role in the South African political arena. Under the leadership of President Nelson Mandela, a concerted effort is being made to remove the military from any involvement in the politics of South Africa.
This chapter will examine the role of the military in South African politics. A historical overview of the South African military is provided in the first section, which is followed by a section on civil-military relations. The third section looks at the regional and domestic wars South Africa was involved in during the 1980s under the leadership of President P. W. Botha, and the fourth section discusses the military's activities under F. W. de Klerk. The final section examines the military in the post-apartheid era.
The Union Defense Force (UDF) was created by the Defense Act of 1912. The UDF was renamed the South African Defense Force (SADF) by the Defense Act of 1957. According to the Act, the SADF was to be used to defend the country against both internal and external threats. In addition, military service was to be performed to defend the country in time of war, to prevent or suppress terrorism and internal disorder, and to preserve life, health, or property and maintenance of essential services.1
Prior to May 1994, the SADF had four service arms: the army, the navy, the