Motshekga ready for “new portfolio assignment”

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The fourth woman to be South Africa’s minister of defence and military veterans in the democratic era hit back at her detractors, reportedly telling ENCA she was “used to naysayers”.

The Johannesburg-headquartered television news channel was further told by Angie Motshekga – the long-serving former basic education minister – that “one has a million well-wishers and 10 000 loudmouths, so you should not ignore those wishing you well”.

Johannesburg daily The Citizen has it Motshekga’s “transition to the defence role raised eyebrows, particularly since her [one] deputy, United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa, has been widely regarded as more suitable for the position due to his military background”.

She is quoted by the newspaper as being ready for the “new portfolio assignment” and acknowledged budget cuts as “a challenge” for the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

“I expect problems everywhere. I think there are no problems which are surmountable; we will have to do what we have to do with resources that are there,” Motshekga is reported as saying.

“It would be dishonest of me to say I know what I’m going to do,” she told the SABC. “I’m not a soldier; I’m not going to fight. I’m the head of policy, so I work with a team of experts. Even in [Basic] Education, I was not teaching.”

Speaking to eNCA, Motshekga said she would first consult with the president and her predecessor, Thandi Modise, for an official handover.

Acknowledging the lack of resources facing the SA National Defence Force, she said: “There are no problems which are unsurmountable. We will have to do what we have to do with the resources that are there.”

She reportedly claimed further that Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana informed her his department “approved a decent sum of money to recapitalise the army”.

She said her department would meet urgently with National Treasury this week to discuss the details of the funding.

“I am not too optimistic to deal with the problems, but government has started a process to address some of the problems which have been raised by my predecessors,” she said.

TimesLive reports Motshekga saying following the Ministerial swearing-in earlier this week that she “acknowledges her unfamiliarity with the defence portfolio”. Her plan is “go to the office, get handover reports, have a briefing with the generals and agree with my colleagues on how we are going to proceed”.