The 2020 iteration of the SA National Defence Force’s major public event of the year – Armed Forces Day – coincided with handover of the completed fifth legacy project.
The involvement of the national defence force in civic affairs is not new with airmen, military medics, sailors and soldiers contributing to the annual Mandela Day where South Africans are asked to give 67 minutes of their time to a worthy cause. In the SANDF the day is usually marked at unit level with formations also involved. The day is marked annually on July 18, the birthday of democratic South Africa’s first president. The day is also on the UN calendar as Nelson Mandela International Day and was first marked in 2010 with South Africa leading the way a year earlier. It is seen internationally as a global call to action with volunteering and community service as its hallmarks.
Similarly, the Armed Forces Day legacy project shows the country’s men and women in uniform in action volunteering for community projects. The projects selected for military legacy ones are an initiative of Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and are in the province where Armed Forces Day is marked in a specific year.
This year saw the Sekutupu Old Age Home in Capricorn District in Lepelle Nkumpi Municipality as recipient of the SANDF’s community outreach. The facility had renovations done to its administration block, a well-equipped recreation centre was established, guard rooms built and a borehole pump installed.
Previous Armed Forces Day legacy projects are the SA Navy undertaking renovation and refurbishment of the Ekuphumeleni Old Age Home (2016, Port Elizabeth); Mason Lincoln Special School in Umlazi receiving a donation of sanitary pads (2017, Durban); SAAF donating IT equipment to Retlameleng Special School in Galeshewe and equipping a computer lab with desktop computers at Platfontein High School (2018, Kimberley) and the SA Navy undertaking repair and refurbishment at Siviwe School of Skills as well as building a sports field and establishing a vegetable garden (2019, Cape Town).
According to Department of Defence (DoD) head of communication Siphiwe Dlamini all legacy projects have been made possible by sponsorships.
Mpumalanga will be the last province to host Armed Forces Day in the current round of events and indications are the SANDF will pursue the legacy project in the province next year.