President Jacob Zuma should by June this year appoint a new Chief of the South African National Defence Force (CSANDF), Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu says. She adds General Godfrey Ngwenya formally relinquished the post at the end of last month and is now the nation’s ambassador to Angola.
Lieutenant General Themba Matanzima has been acting CSANDF since December. Sisulu told Members of Parliament in Cape Town that the candidate would likely come from the current cadre of service and division chiefs.
“The President will shortly be announcing the Chief of the South African National Defence Force,” Sisulu said in her annual budget vote. “And judging from the current leadership of the National Defence Force, it will be a man. I know that does not give the rest of us any clues, but it allows me to say with certainty that he will be called upon to fill General Ngwenya’s shoes and lead the National Defence Force to its full potential. This will be no mean feat for anyone, no matter the size of his shoes.”
Sisulu added that the state arms acquisition agency Armscor’s will next month gain a new board whose first task would be to appoint a new chief executive. Former CE Sipho Thomo was suspended on November 19, 2009 on various charges of misconduct. His services were terminated on January 7 last year. Armscor General Manager Acquisition Sipho Mkwanazi was then appointed acting CE.
“I take this opportunity also to thank the outgoing board of Armscor, whose term of office comes to an end on 30 April 2011. In particular, its Chairperson, Dr Popo Molefe and Mr Roelf Meyer, who have served two terms and who, with excellent leadership, have notched up significant accomplishments in creating new ways of thinking. I thank them immensely for their service to the country by serving on the Board of Armscor. Their stature, in their own right, has added credibility to our process and institution. The work of Armscor has shown that we had such steadfast men of vision and commitment. I am sad to lose them from the Armscor ambit, but I hope they will find it in them to serve with us again in other capacities.
“To the Chairperson, Dr Molefe, your personal support has been invaluable to me. May you remain forever an embodiment of everything we believe in and have fought for. To both of you, South Africa is so much richer for what you have given.”
Sisulu also told MPs and a pre-budget vote media briefing this morning she will next week announce the members of the permanent National Defence Force Service Commission. She told MPs in her budget vote the term of the current commission expired next week and she would appoint a permanent commission – after consulting Cabinet – in terms of the Defence Amendment Act signed into law by President Jacob Zuma in December last year.
“We have to bid farewell too to the commissioners of the Interim National Defence Force Service Commission. I have boundless gratitude for the enormous work they have done; for their commitment to their work; for their impartiality and impeccable scrutiny. Their dedication has allowed us to meet our target of establishing a new defence dispensation in record time. Each one of the members of the Interim Commission brought unique skills that together provided us with incredible capacity.
“Within the rights afforded me by the Constitution, I took a conscious decision that we needed to investigate the creation of a separate dispensation for the National Defence Force, so that we can improve the functioning and conditions in defence.
“I appointed the Interim National Defence Force Service Commission after consultation with Cabinet. In appointing the Interim Commission, I also took the decision, completely outside any requirements of the law, to consult with the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans on the appointment of members of the Interim Commission.
“It is now a common recorded fact that some in the Portfolio Committee [seemingly areferene to Democratic Alliance MP and defence shadow minister David Maynier] have abused this gesture of goodwill and typical of a twisted mind, hyped up a matter so tangential to the real issues we sought to resolve, that it was quite clear that they had no idea what the real challenges of our people in the National Defence Force are. While they were caught up in their self-serving melodrama, phantom of the opera, the Interim Commission calmly kept their course and have delivered a very sound report to guide government on some of the challenges that had built up over fifteen years in the National Defence Force.
“In line with their main term of reference, they have helped create a dispensation within which we are now dealing with the unique problems of our soldiers, within an environment that is uniquely Defence,” Sisulu said.
“I thank you, as we wind up the Interim National Defence Force Service Commission. The term of office of the Interim Commission comes to an end next week, when I will be announcing the names of the new Defence Force Service Commission, after I have consulted Cabinet.
“A special gratitude goes to the Judge Bosielo, the Chairperson of the Interim Commission, for your sterling stewardship; to the Members of Parliament who served, for showing that, although serving in the Opposition, you are equally committed to the constructive development of this country; for showing that being in the Opposition has nothing to do with opportunistic irresponsibility and has nothing to do with vain attempts at creating a profile. You have inextricably bound your names to that which will enable our soldiers to live better lives. You worked with integrity to promote the defence of our country. I dread to think what would have happened if certain other members of the Opposition had been on the Interim Commission. I would not be exaggerating if I said that the opportunity would have been used for personal exhibition, at great security expense for the National Defence Force.
“General Ngwenya, Dr Molefe, Mr Meyer and members of the Interim National Defence Force Service Commission, I thank you all for your unwavering service. The National Defence Force is so much stronger for your work. You possess that distinctive edge that one acquires when one strives to live to give to a greater cause than oneself. That is what we experienced in each one of you.
“I deliberately started on that sombre, sad tone of bidding farewell to a number of people who have contributed significantly to where we are. This was to ensure that we all recognise that we have reached the end of a particular era in Defence. But also to emphasise that for every end, there is a new beginning, a continuity and a responsibility on each one to ensure that that continuity honours the work that is laid out for us,” Sisulu said.
“It is on that note of new beginnings that I would like to welcome the new chairpersons of our Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans and Joint Standing Committee on Defence. Your vigour, honesty and focus has been refreshing. We look forward to a very productive working relationship.”