On Thursday this week Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi will hand over command of the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) Joint Operations Division to Major General Duma Mdutyana.
Mgwebi has been named Force Commander of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), which includes a tri-nation Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), the first ever UN force to be given an offensive mandate in its work of protecting civilians.
Mgwebi’s appointment was announced by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in December and indications are the whipcord tough senior SANDF senior officer will take up his appointment either later this month or early in February. There is currently no official UN indication of how long the three star general will be in charge of the UN single largest mission but appointments at this level in the world body are generally for two years.
It appears thinking at the top command level of the SANDF is such that when Mgwebi returns he will be deployed elsewhere within the South African military machine. This has seen Department of Defence head of communication, Siphiwe Dlamini, announce the appointment of Mdutyana to replace Mgwebi.
A change of command parade is set to take place at what is now called AFB Zwartkop West, the old SAAF gymnasium.
Fifty-six-year-old Mdutyana is currently Chief Director: Operations at Joint Operations and previously serviced General Officer Commanding (GOC) Joint Operations headquarters. He has also served externally as GOC of the South African contingent in Burundi in 2003 and as Deputy Division Commander of the Eastern Division in the DRC. After being promoted to major general he was posted as Chief Advisor to the DRC, Chief of Defence Staff. Mdutyana has also served as Deputy Force Commander of UNAMID, the UN Mission in Sudan.
Mgwebi’s continental peace support and peacekeeping deployments include Force Commander of the African Mission in Burundi and Force Commander of the UN Mission in Burundi. He replaces Brazilian Lieutenant General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz