The retention of Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula as defence minister has been welcomed “in the interests of continuity”.
She is the only member of the Cabinet’s Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster to retain he position in the new Cabinet accounted on Sunday by President Jacob Zuma, now serving his second term as South Africa’s first citizen and also Commander-in-Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has been re-deployed to the arts and culture portfolio and Siybonga Cwele, formerly the number one spook now finds himself in the newly created telecommunications and postal services department.
Freedom Front Plus defence spokesman Pieter Groenewald said: “At the least it means continuity both in terms of the Minister as well as senior officials and with the Defence Review the most pressing item on the defence agenda her knowledge of it will be a necessity.”
Democratic Alliance shadow defence and military veterans minister, David Maynier, said Mapisa-Nqakula’s re-appointment “will provide the necessary continuity during the Defence Review process, the success of which is vital to the future of the SANDF”.
Mapisa-Nqakula was appointed Defence Minister in June 2012, replacing Lindiwe Sisulu and while her public appearances have not been at the same level as Sisulu’s, defence sector insiders say she is a hard worker and has the best interests of the country’s soldiers and the local defence industry at heart.
That she is not afraid of ruffling feathers was illustrated by her summary dismissal of former Armscor chairman “Mojo” Motau and his deputy Refiloe Mokoena last year. She also did not hesitate to take the matter to the Constitutional Court when the pair had their dismissals overturned by the North Gauteng High Court.
New deputy Defence Minister is Kebby Maphatsoe, a man long aligned to Umkhonto we Sizwe and its structures. He is expected to be the point man on veterans’ affairs as his predecessor, Thabang Makwetla, was.