Defence Directorate Corporate Communications mum on Shoke retirement tour


The communicators in the national defence force have done it again, shooting themselves in the proverbial foot, just over a month after defenceWeb asked if they are losing the plot.

Soon after our editorial was published the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) took to its social media platform to announce a workshop in conjunction with the Institute for Advanced Journalism (IAJ) to better its communication skills and standards.

That effort appears to have been fruitless when the Directorate: Corporate Communication under the leadership of Brigadier General Mafi Mgobozi is taken into account.

As with the majority of the South African defence community, defenceWeb knows General Solly Shoke will be exiting his office as the country’s senior soldier in the not too distant future.

With this in mind and looking to pay tribute to the outgoing SANDF Chief, defenceWeb asked for information regarding the by now traditional end of duty tour of SANDF bases, facilities, formations and units the national defence force’s lone general would visit to bid the troops farewell. In view of the generally secretive approach to announcements of top personnel, defenceWeb did not ask who Shoke’s successor is or exactly when the four-star general will vacate his office in the Armscor building.

The single sentence response says it all – in terms of the media approach the SANDF seems to favour – but does not answer the questions asked.

It reads: “As Chief of the SANDF, General Shoke will be going on retirement as he ends his term of duty in service of the South African people, the SANDF and all its elements are waiting for guidelines regarding the details of his end-of-service (sic)”.

Again, it seems the communicators in the SANDF (or those who give them instructions) do not see the media as a force multiplier that can tell South Africans who and what “their” national defence force is and is doing. The lack of communication is damaging to a force badly in need of better public relations.