The absence of numbers, whether 100 or 25, on the logo which purports to mark both these anniversaries of the SA Air Force (SAAF) is attracting flak, in the metaphorical sense.
With the first event of the centenary year of the SAAF set to happen at South Africa’s oldest air force base – Zwartkop – on Friday, an apparent ruling comes from unnamed “powers that be” pointing out neither the “word centenary nor the numeral 100” are to be used in logos or slogans associated with the anniversary. No mention has yet been made on the use of 25 or 25th anniversary which the air force also marks this year. In this regard the SA Navy last year staged a series of events to mark its 25th anniversary in democratic South Africa as Project Tshintsha.
In a memorandum to all SAAF Association members national president Mike Louw diplomatically explains the issue.
“The SAAF Association, while cognisant of the political circumstances in which the SAAF finds itself and while acknowledging the SAAF recognises its full history, nonetheless regrets they, the SAAF, are prevented from using the numeral 100 or the word centenary in their logos and slogans. It is of course this fact that gives the SAAF the distinction of being the second oldest independent air force in existence.
“As SAAFA we need to respect the inner workings and unique situation in which the SAAF finds itself and thus support upcoming activities where the SAAF will be celebrating 25 years of democracy and commemorating the collective heritage of the air force.
“We request that the unique prevailing circumstances be recognised as such and that SAAFA and its members give every possible support to the SAAF, its squadrons and units and most essentially, its members”.
The issue has been taken further with indications are Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula will have to answer at least one SAAF centenary question in Parliament during the sitting which starts with the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 13 February. Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Kobus Marais, the party’s shadow defence and military veterans minister, indicated South Africans must “acknowledge their past and the important milestone of 100 years since the SAAF was established” adding “we must celebrate the SAAF centenary”.
He said he will support the centenary and promote the anniversary in the parliamentary environment.
Experts point out while the SAAF can indeed claim 25 years of a democratic air force, this only applies until 27 April. After that the SAAF will be celebrating 26 years of a democratic air force.