Easter service address by Chief of the South African National Defence Force General Rudzani Maphwanya, Thaba Tshwane, 6 April 2022


The Chief of Staff of the SANDF Lt Gen L. Yam, Chiefs of Services and Divisions, Members of the Plenary Defence Staff Council, the Military Ombuds Lt Gen (Ret) V.R. Masondo, Generals and Admirals, Chaplain General Brig Gen (Rev) M. A. Jamangile, Officers, Sergeant Major of the SANDF – MCWO N.E. Mtshatsheni, Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, our distinguished guests present here today, our dedicated men and women in uniform, ladies and gentlemen. GOOD MORNING!!!

Our religious diversity graciously prompts us to continuously acknowledge the co-existence of other faith groupings. I acknowledge those of you who are in our midst. At the close of the first quarter of 2022, we are faced with a virtuous event in the Christian calendar, which carries a significant life role in the history of Christianity. We have entered into a period where millions of Christian faithful’s are looking forward to a period of meditation, worship and deep prayerful acts. The period is for deep spiritual transformation and an all-inclusive discipline. It is that time of the year when individuals are to reflect on what they have spiritually achieved with or without losing one’s character and value of oneself.  For it is imperative in a complex world not to lose one’s spirituality and tranquillity that goes with it.

At the commencement of the year we were still with COVID-19, though restrictions were relaxed and the State of National Disaster has just been terminated. We did our best to save lives of the citizens and even lives of our own members. However, we need to be reminded that Covid-19 is still with us, we need to remain vigilant and cautious. We need to take care of ourselves and our loved ones.

What a coincidence that Muslim devotees worldwide are also in the Month of Ramadan, a month that dictates to them to undergo fasting, prayer, deep spiritual reflection and be compassionate to self and to their neighbours. Both periods [Ramadan and Easter] are calling for their members to undertake a journey of deep spiritual reflection and be transformed to newness of mind, thoughts and rediscovering of Ubuntu/botho values.

As I take the opportunity to wish all the members of the SANDF in particular and the DOD in general a blessed Easter Service, allow me to reflect on pertinent issues which are a cause for concern. We are all aware of the fact that we are a microcosm of the society we serve and defend. The challenges that the society is going through do affect us in one way or the other. The advent of Covid -19 pandemic, has made matters worse as we will never get back to “the way things were”. And that will never be an option or achievable. As military members it is time we take our economic uncertainty and use it to find some moral clarity. Too often we have been ruled by the maxims that greed is good, it’s all about me, and I want it now. Those can be challenged only with some of our oldest and best values, and say enough is enough, we are in it together, and let’s consider not just tomorrow but future generations.

We are part of global economy, and the current financial crisis is also a moral crisis. A need for a new economic order in the midst of Covid-19, is a clarion call for us as SANDF, as Jim Wallis shows in his book “Rediscovering Values” that solution to our problems will be found only as individuals, families, friends, churches, mosques, synagogues, and entire communities wrestle with the question of values together. Still on the matter of values, it is truly imperative that when we reflect on our spiritual make over in this Easter period, we should also take stock of our work ethics. Total quality management vs total quality life of our members. Is it what we as an organisation happy and satisfied about? Turn-around time of delivering documents, turn-around time of implementing decisions taken at all levels, does it carry any seriousness, military ethos, precision, military pride and professionalism.

Our deployments both internally and externally, let us look at supporting our members not only with prayers, however, let us start to take them very seriously when they raise pertinent issues. Members of the multi-professional teams, utilise your prowess, expertise, and competencies to support our deployed members and their families. Let me remind you that words start to lose value when actions don’t match. It is imperative that you become our conduits to address all their ills, working with the commanders on the ground.

Allow me before I draw to my conclusion, to make an appeal to all of us, including those who are listening on the media platforms of the SANDF, you are our human capital a very vital resource that makes this institution to be what is, you are very precious, however, comprehend the fact that there are budget cuts, there are shortages of almost everything we need to have and desire to improve our defence force with.

Over this period of Easter, when you will be reflecting on individual spiritual matters and praying for the SANDF, think on how are you going to use the little resources we have in a more cost-effective, efficient and economic way. Let us care for each other, let us care for our subordinates. May the Spirit of Easter, Spirit of Resurrection be invoked in us to seek to embrace each other, find each other in the goodness of the Lord.

Let us be concerned about the buildings they go to as offices, are they habitable enough to give us good production and health for our members. In all of what we have to do in the coming days after Easter going forward, let there be value in everything we do. Let us improve on our work ethics and if we cannot let us switch to the known basics.

Allow me Programme Director to thank all the members of the military community and their dependents. May Almighty God protect you, sustain you and above all keep you safe over this Easter period. To all those who will take long trips, drive safely and always remember that the car you are driving can and may be a lethal weapon that can take your life. Drive safely. To our Muslim members Ramadan Mubarak and to the Christian members A Happy Easter!!!

I Thank You!!!