The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) relies heavily on Denel and Armscor for its defence equipment needs. This was emphasized by General Rudzani Maphwanywa, Chief of the SANDF, during a Medal Parade held at Air Force Base Ysterplaat in Cape Town on 21 April.
Maphwanywa spoke about the importance of the SANDF’s engagement with local defence industry partners, specifically mentioning Denel and Armscor. The Military Command Council met with both companies earlier in April “for frank discussions on capabilities strengthening, so as to see our institutions moving forward together in tandem.” Maphwanywa also expressed his trust and confidence in the team led by Denel’s interim group CEO, Michael Kgobe, who is tasked with turning around Denel’s fortunes to make it more stable and profitable.
Denel is an original equipment manufacturer and maintenance, repair, and overhaul authority for numerous critical SANDF systems. Denel is mandated to support the SANDF by providing and maintaining defence equipment as a national security asset and thus Denel is crucial to the SANDF’s preparation and readiness for deployment, both internally and externally.
Maphwanywa provided numerous examples of critical equipment for which Denel is responsible, such as the new Badger infantry fighting vehicle, the elderly Casspir armoured personnel carrier, the G6 self-propelled howitzer, G5 howitzer, Bateleur multiple rocket launcher, ground based air defence systems, Oryx transport helicopter, Rooivalk attack helicopter, A-Darter air-to-air missile, Mokopa anti-tank missile, Umkhonto surface-to-air missile and the cannon that is used by the Rooivalk.
Losing Denel’s capabilities would mean that the SANDF would no longer have security of supply and would be reliant on the import of equipment, which could have adverse effects on the local defence manufacturing industry.
“That we will not allow to happen. For us in the National Defence Force, it is crucial to align our priorities with that of Denel, mainly because if these capabilities are eroding, it will have a fundamental adverse effect on the National Defence Force’s ability to ensure operational readiness and execute its mission and security mandate,” Maphwanywa stated.
“Hence, we shall not tire to ensure that our members are fully equipped to execute their duties without any hindrance and interruption,” he continued. “We, therefore, will continue to support the effort to renew Denel.”
The SANDF was looking forward to Denel’s restructuring to bring it back to profitability, albeit with a leaner budget and workforce.
Delayed from November last year, the Medal Parade will be the year’s largest such event in the Western Cape.
During the event, the SANDF presented service medals to 387 members who had rendered good service for 30 and 40 years, as well as to those who had passed on. The medals are conferred as a token of appreciation to members who have served with loyalty and dedication in execution of the SANDF mandate.
Maphwanywa also recognized the contributions of those who served in the Non-Statutory forces to the architecture of today’s National Defence Force.
Chief of the South African Air Force, Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo, told defenceWeb that he was proud that AFB Ysterplaat was chosen to host the event.