Keep Mapisa-Nqakula on as Defence Minister


Jacob Zuma’s election victory was a foregone conclusion back when he was named the number one candidate on the ANC election lists and this was confirmed in parliament yesterday when he was sworn in for a second term of office as President of the Republic of South Africa.

As the country’s first citizen, Zuma is also Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF). He takes decisions regarding the deployment and use of the military in accordance with recommendations made to him by Cabinet’s Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster, which includes the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans.

Indications are he will announce his Cabinet on Sunday following an official inauguration ceremony at the Union Buildings on Saturday. Rumour and speculation abound as to the composition and size of the new Cabinet with current Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s name cropping up as one who will either be redeployed or dropped.

If the best interests of the country’s military machine are to be properly served, defenceWeb would make a humble plea to the Commander-in-Chief to retain her.

After a settling in period she appears to be getting to grips with the post and given that the all-important Defence Review has to make it to Parliament this year, Zuma would be acting wisely by keeping her on as Defence Minister.

She has also shown she brooks no dissent. This is evident from her summary dismissal of former Armscor chairman “Mojo” Motau and the establishment of a task team to investigate the running of military hospitals, among others.

Mapisa-Nqakula, while nowhere near as public a figure as her predecessor, Lindiwe Sisulu, has been vocal about the need for the SANDF to attract young and skilled people. In this regard she has led from the front at recruitment campaigns on at least two university campuses.

She has been in the military milieu long enough to know its ins and outs and should be allowed to build on her knowledge base to get implementation of the Defence Review underway. This is an absolute essential if the SANDF is to continue fulfilling its Constitutional mandate as well as other tasks assigned to it in both the short and longer term future.