The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) was much in evidence ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).
This high visibility did not go as far as any meaningful mention of the country’s armed forces. In fact the more than seven thousand words spoken by South Africa’s first citizen did not include a single reference to the armed forces and this after the National Ceremonial Guard, a 21 gun salute and a three-ship Gripen flypast in no uncertain terms put the national defence force front and centre.
Additionally, the presence of officers and NCOs from the four services doing duties ranging from opening vehicle doors to escorting dignitaries provided a constant reminder of the military to all in Cape Town and watching on television.
Given the state of governance and the many areas where it has – and is – failing, the omission of the SANDF from the Commander-in-Chief’s address was not unexpected.
The defence and military component of democratic South Africa will hopefully gain valuable insight into Ramaphosa’s thinking on how they fit into his scheme of social compacts to improve the country economically, educationally and with infrastructure when he takes the salute and addresses the Armed Forces Day parade in Polokwane on Friday, 21 February.
The country’s airmen, military medics, sailors and soldiers deserve recognition for what they do – and achieve – under difficult circumstances!