Last week’s announcement of new senior commanders – including a new chief – for the national defence force’s Military Command Council (MCC) by Commander-in-Chief President Cyril Ramaphosa can, one observer thinks, be likened to the curate’s egg – good in parts but mostly bad.
Looking at the new command structure, retired Joint Operations Division Chief of Staff, former Major General Mlindeni Sibango, hopes the injection of new blood will see the core business of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) conducted with a different approach in future.
“It appears the Military Command Council (MCC) is solely the preserve of former uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) members as they are the ones anointed to lead a dynamic organisation such as the SANDF with all its complexities,” he says.
“I would have expected the approach to appointing SANDF leadership to be wider than one component of the integrated forces disregarding candidates with merit from the other six forces. They are the Azania Peoples Liberation Army (Apla), former TBVC armies and former SA Defence Force (SADF), as well as former security elements from the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).”
This, Sibango says, is an opportunity lost and is a pointer to the “dangers of this approach (appointing only former MK members)”.
They include a possible lack of diversity in the MCC leading to a lack of dynamism and balanced views “bound to negatively affect the moral fibre of the SANDF to its detriment” as well as further fragmenting rather than unifying the MCC “especially at operational and strategic levels”.
On where to go and what decisions to take, the former two-star general maintains counter-insurgency training and a review of the officer training curriculum is a must.
“This will sharpen the junior levels of command to stand the test of counter-insurgency operations as initiative, command and control are solely at this level in unconventional operations.”
Looking at South Africa’s eastern neighbour, Sibango said the possible involvement of South African soldiers in Cabo Delgado should be another pointer to the new MCC to “be decisive and change course without delay”.