First female SA military graduate from Maxwell Air University


Colonel Zoleka Niyabo has become the first female military officer in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to graduate from the Maxwell Air University in Alabama, United States.

The US Embassy in Pretoria said it saluted Niyabo for graduating with a Master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. She excelled at the course, earning several distinctions.

She obtained an A symbol in Strategy which is the main module. She became the first African Officer to obtain this symbol in Strategy and she was the only female officer out of 43 international officers to attend this course.

Colonel Niyabo spent a fully-funded year learning about strategic planning and research, policy formulation, and joint force and multinational operations as part of the International Military Education Programme (IMET).

The IMET programme is funded by the U.S. Department of State and presented in partnership with the SANDF. “Through professional and technical courses, and specialized instruction, IMET provides foreign students valuable training and education aimed at strengthening international coalitions, developing a common understanding of shared international challenges, and fostering relationships necessary to counter those challenges collaboratively,” the US Embassy said.

Colonel Niyabo, who has a background in teaching, joined the SANDF in 2008, and rose to the position of Chief Defense Reserves Senior Staff Officer Human Resource Support.