SANDF flies the flag at Mangaung imbizo


The national defence force successfully reprised its March North West Presidential imbizo performance by being present at another in Mangaung at the weekend for the second of Cyril Ramaphosa’s provincial visits.

As with Mafikeng in March, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) used Free State-based assets, mainly from Bloemfontein and surrounding areas, to fly the flag at the Imbizo on 9 April. All four services and Defence Acquisition were on hand to show locals exactly what the SANDF, its people and equipment are all about.

Showcased, on a limited scale, were capabilities and a variety of prime mission equipment, Major Marumo Machete of Defence Corporate Communication reports. “Local youth and community of Mangaung came from far and wide for a ‘touch-and-feel’ of their military equipment and relish an opportunity to interact with their soldiers.”

Military communicators shared the SANDF mandate with the local community as well as the “array” of career opportunities in the services and divisions.

“The SA Army displayed its specialised infantry capability with motorcycles and quadbikes, infantry fighting vehicles and Geckos. SA Armour displayed ZT3 tank busters and two Rooikat armoured cars. The SA Air Force (SAAF) showed an engine prototype, G-force suit and various weapons…and the SA Navy (SAN) had used models of vessels in the fleet to educate the public about the work they do. SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) deployed operational emergency care practitioners and a nursing and dental clinic serving the local community.

“Logistics Division and Defence Works Formation officers spoke to communities on their capabilities and ways to access small and medium enterprise opportunities within the SANDF as well as explaining the Department of Defence (DoD) procurement process.”

Lack of service delivery, corruption, inadequate housing and crime are challenges Ramaphosa committed government to address in Mangaung. “We heard your concerns and as government we are going to address them,” Ramaphosa said during the community engagement at the Dr Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday. Following failure by the Free State provincial executive to implement a financial recovery plan for the metro, the municipality has now been placed under national intervention.

The next chance the wider South African public have to see the SANDF will be at the Rand Easter Show at the Nasrec Show Grounds in Johannesburg from 13 to 18 April, after a two year absence due to the coronavirus pandemic. The SANDF are setting up displays, which will include at least one Rooivalk helicopter.

The SA Army’s participation in the Rand Easter Show will be in form of an interactive outdoor exhibition of prime mission equipment, which it sees as an opportunity to promote a positive image of the landward force. Attendees will meet communicators from the SA Army Formations and Brigades who will educate them about life in the military while SA Army Human Resources will conduct a recruitment drive.

The overall aim of SANDF participation is to educate and raise public awareness about the SANDF as well as bring the people’s defence force to the people.

SANDF participation will include static exhibitions manned by communicators from the four services – air force, army, military health and navy – as well as its divisions, ranging from Joint Operations to Human Resources.

Most likely due to budget cuts and operational commitments, this year the SANDF will not showcase an arena programme or capability demonstration.