Chief of the South African National Defence Force (C SANDF) General Solly Shoke has announced that Major General Fabian Zimpande (Zakes) Msimang will be the next Chief of the South Africa Air Force (CAF). He will take office October 1.
Msimang will take over Command of the South African Air Force from the longest serving Chief of the Air Force in the history of the SANDF, Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano, who retires on the September 30.
For the next three and a half months, Major General Msimang will understudy Lieutenant General Gagiano as part of the handing and taking over process of the command of the South African Air Force (SAAF).
He is currently Chief Director Air Policy and Plans in the Air Office responsible for Air Force strategy, policies, capabilities and resource allocation.
Msimang integrated into the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in 1994 after the first democraticeElections as a qualified pilot on Soviet Mi 8 Hip medium utility and and Mi 25 attack helicopters. He received his flying training at Frunze Central Officers Training Centre in Kirghizstan in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republic from 1986 to 1991. During his career he has flown the Mi 8, Mi 25, Eurocopter Allouette III, Denel Oryx helicopters and also did a factory conversion onto the AgustaWestland A109E in Italy.
He was a member of the armed wsing of the African National Congress, uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK). He has been in combat as an MK cadre in Angola in 1986. Post 1994 he has been an operational pilot at maritime and inland helicopter squadrons.
Msimang further served as officer commanding of the Helicopter Flying School at Air Force Base Bloemspruit in Bloemfontein and was then promoted to colonel and Officer Commanding Air Force Base Bloemspruit. Msimang was later promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and served in the Air Force Command as Director Helicopter Systems.
“The C SANDF congratulates Major General Msimang on his new appointment and wishes to thank Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano for his dedication, commitment and contribution to the development of the SAAF in particular and the SANDF in general,” SANDF spokesman Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said.