My argument that the South African military is not up to the task of fighting COVID-19 draws from research on its internal deployment and my own continuing research on the democratic nature of South Africa's civil-military relations.
South Africa's political leaders have purposed the military largely for conventional roles, yet they deploy it mostly for unconventional tasks such as peacekeeping, fighting crime, and against COVID-19.
My own experience of civic education at the Oudtshoorn Infantry School in 2010, and reports on the conduct of South African soldiers on peace missions and at home, both prior to and during COVID-19, point to the failure of the military's civic education programme to adequately inculcate respect for human rights and dignity in the military.
In short, the education and training of South Africa's soldiers over the past 26 years have not properly prepared them for secondary roles, such as peacekeeping or fighting new security threats like COVID-19.
But, had South Africa's political and military leaders done a better job of stewarding the country's military resource over the past 26 years, it would be better prepared for the challenge.