Apart from passing mentions of continental peacekeeping support and the need to stamp out rhino poaching, yesterday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Jacob Zuma was singularly short on defence and security issues.
Not that defenceWeb expected the man who is also Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to make any major announcements in this regard. The speech is, after all, meant to give South Africans an insight into what the state of the nation is, not what the country is doing to bring peace to other parts of Africa, or its contribution to stopping piracy or even the contribution soldiers are making to plug the country’s notoriously porous borders.
Also, it must not be forgotten this is an election year and defence spending is never a particularly glamorous topic if one wants to attract votes.
With Zuma, according to the SANDF Directorate: Corporate Communications, set to be the “main officiating functionary” at next Friday’s Armed Forces Day parade in Bloemfontein more emphasis on matters military can be expected from him.
He is due to pay tribute to soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the course of their duty and will also be presenting medals for bravery to soldiers who “demonstrated heroism” during the ill-fated Battle for Bangui last year.
This is good and well and very much in line with military tradition and will boost morale in a force much in need of it, faced, as it is with an extremely tight budget and a growing list of tasks ultimately assigned to it by the Commander-in-Chief.