Defence Reserves without a number one


The Reserve Force component of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has been without a chief for just on five months.

This was disclosed by Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise when replying to a parliamentary question asked by Kobus Marais, Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister for her Cabinet responsibility.

Retired major general Stephen Marumo was, according to Modise, appointed from 1 September 2022 with the intention to serve “for the duration of the tenure of C SANDF [General Rudzani Maphwanya]”. He “requested to be relieved of his service with effect from 31 August 2023 due to personal reasons”. Modise’s written reply was posted on the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG) this month (January) after responding to a Marais question asked in November.

The ministerial response noted Marumo “provided constant guidance during his time of service regarding the status and future of the Reserves”. She continues, pointing out his input at Reserve Force Indaba II was “confirmed at the annual strategic planning session held in April 2023” and adds he provided the “required guidance as would be expected from a Chief Defence Reserves”.

While he was the senior part-time officer for Defence Reserves, Marumo was called up for 12 days a month as the position requires the appointee attend monthly SANDF command meetings.

Marumo’s absence – with no explanation – was noted at a November Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) meeting and prompted Marais’ question. SA Air Force (SAAF) Brigadier General Zoleka Niyabo-Mana, apparently acting director Defence Reserves, appeared before the oversight committee. She has also been called Chief Director Defence Reserves with no confirmation of which is correct from either the SANDF Directorate Corporate Communication (DCC) or the Defence Reserves office.