SA Navy (SAN) Chief Vice Admiral Mosiwa Hlongwane presided over two medal parades in November, telling personnel in the maritime service he was “thankful” they are still in uniform.
Addressing a medal parade at fleet headquarters in Simon’s Town, Hlongwane said those on parade and guests attending “would not believe the amount of specialised skill the Navy is losing on a daily basis”.
He told the parade on the Martello sportsground: “Alternative local and international poachers are exploiting our vulnerabilities and crippling us as an organisation, offering sumptuous payments to our well trained specialists”.
Expanding on skills losses in the SAN, South Africa’s senior sailor pointed out offers made by the private sector were “attractive” but not to the extent they unduly influenced maritime servicemen and women.
“They joined the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) out of a sense of duty and will give their all in defence of South Africa,” he said, indicating financial reward wasn’t everything.
This was background for SAN personnel honoured with long service medals who CNavy said had the right to wear them with pride.
“You worked hard. In this context, I specifically refer to a pride that will often remind you that you are wearing attributes of good governance such as accountability, responsiveness, the rule of law and Ubuntu.
“Achieving 20 years in the SAN is more expensive, expensive in the sense it demands your behaviour to always portray maturity, a high level of discipline and more importantly, exemplarity to sub-ordinates. You are also required and expected to be a symbol of hope to our people and the country.
“Wherever you are, you must serve with the consciousness that you carry their blessings, their spiritual support and best wishes; because their safety is entrusted to your care.”
Hlongwane’s second medal parade saw personnel at the SAN office and other Pretoria-based naval units honoured at Air Force Base (AFB) Swartkop, in the absence of a SAN parade ground in South Africa’s military capital.
He told the Swartkop parade “conferring” medals is equivalent to receipt of a National Order “demanding a high level of commitment in terms of fulfilling your mandate as SAN members”.
“Many organisations, including the SAN, may have policies, strategies and mandates that could pass cost/benefit analyses with flying colours, but if those responsible for carrying them out are unwilling, devoid of commitment and unable to implement, little will happen for those organisations.
“It is this incumbent on us to pool, synchronise and orchestrate resources with the intention of creating a context permitting the prevalence of these attributes in our daily doings at work.”
CNavy, while appreciative of “concrete resources” including human, material, technological and logistic, pointed to capacity building also needing intangible elements. He named these as leadership, motivation, willingness, commitment, courage, resilience and Ubuntu.