Richards Bay to host Armed Forces Day 2023

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The first rotation of Armed Forces Day across South Africa’s nine provinces is complete with KwaZulu-Natal, in the form of Richards Bay, named to host of the 2023 event.

The announcement of the venue was done via one an SA National Defence Force (SANDF) social media account under an “Attention Please!” headline giving the 21 February date and place venue only.

Mpumalanga provincial capital Mbombela hosted this year’s event, delayed as South Africa instituted various levels of lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, completing the circuit which started in Thaba Tshwane in 2010.

A three year gap followed before the national defence force reinstated its annual public showcase, this time in the Free State provincial capital Bloemfontein. It marked the expansion of the event from a “day” to a week with displays of hardware and career exhibitions from the four services and a number of divisions.

Potchefstroom, the unofficial military capital of North West was the site of Armed Forces Day in 2015 with Eastern Cape’s Port Elizabeth (now Gqeberha) next in line giving the SA Navy (SAN) a first opportunity to put its platforms in the public eye in their natural element. 2017 gave the maritime service a second bite at the cherry when port city Durban hosted the event before Northern Cape capital Kimberley, unofficially the provincial military capital, welcomed the SANDF in 2018. The following year saw Cape Town host the event with a beach night shoot and sail past attracting thousands.

The choice of venues to date indicates willingness by SANDF management to take the force to the people, rather than concentrate on provincial capitals. To date only three of nine Armed Forces Days have been in provincial capitals – Bloemfontein (Free State), Cape Town (Western Cape) and Kimberley (Northern Cape).