THE ANC has called for the abolishment of unions in the South African National Defence Force and National Intelligence Agency after the violent protest by some members of the military outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria last month.

Addressing the media after a weekend meeting of the ANC national executive committee, general secretary Gwede Mantashe said: "The recent protest by some members of the SANDF made the NEC realise the error of allowing unionisation of the military."

The ANC boss said the party wanted the abolition of the unions to begin immediately.

"The NEC decided that the process of de-unionisation should begin while a formal structure for engagement is being created in the SANDF," he said.

Last week President Jacob Zuma said allowing soldiers to belong to unions could compromise national security.

"You can imagine South Africa being attacked and soldiers having grievances and going on strike," Zuma had said.

"It would be a very funny notion if we say that the security of the country rests with the unions."

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said the matter would be discussed during the labour federation's national congress that starts today.

Independent Trade Unions spokesperson Simphiwe Gwashu said the ANC could not outlaw the unions in the military.

"It was the ruling of the Constitutional Court that allowed unions into the defence force and such a ruling cannot be overturned based on the ANC's decision."