Gladys Sonto Kudjoe has been appointed as the new Secretary for Defence and will take office from the beginning of August as incumbent Dr Sam Gulube retires.
This was announced by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula during a mini plenary session to debate the adjusted Department of Defence budget vote in the National Assembly on 23 July.
“I wish to conclude by honouring the Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Gulube, who is officiating in his last Defence Budget Vote, having been at the helm since 2012. He has also harnessed the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster as well as leading senior officials in support of the cluster and all of government. He has also been leading in the fight against COVID-19 and completes forty five years of service to the people as he goes into retirement,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
“The President has appointed Ambassador Sonto Kudjoe as the new Secretary for Defence.” Mapisa-Nqakula said that Kudjoe will take office on 1 August.
Gulube was expected to retire at the end of last year, but his term was extended. His career highlights include helping draft the 2015 Defence Review, the National Defence Industry Council (NDIC), which saw the establishment of the local defence industry strategy, the Defence Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Sector Code and the Defence Industry Fund (DIF) for participation from small, medium and micro-sized enterprises.
Kudjoe served as South Africa’s ambassador to Sweden between 2002 and 2006, and Egypt from 2006 to 2010. She held several senior positions in the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
In August 2013 she was appointed Director General of the State Security Agency (SSA). She was with the then South African Secret Service (SASS) about 13 years before, and when Kudjoe joined the SSA in 2013 she was its first female Director General.
She resigned in 2016 due to what The Citizen reported was due to a ‘tense’ relationship with then state security minister David Mahlobo. Her predecessor Jeff Maqetuka resigned in 2013 after four years in the job.
Kudjoe joined the newly established Paramount South Africa division in 2018 and has been described by Forbes as an entrepreneur and technocrat.
“I have always had an interest in the myriad of issues comprising defence and security; this started over 20 years ago, when the world and the challenges within it were far different than what they are today,” she told Forces in 2018.
In a profile in Public Sector Manager magazine in 2014, Kudjoe outlined border security, cyber security/cyber terrorism and corruption as priority areas to address as part of efforts to keep South Africa and its citizens safe.