New Deputy Defence Minister is a hands-on veterans’ man


The new man at the helm of veterans’ affairs in the Department of Defence has been closely involved with particularly MK veterans since 2007 and is also currently president of the national military veterans association.

Kebby Maphatsoe was named new Deputy Defence and Military Veterans Minister by President Jacob Zuma when he announced a new, expanded Cabinet following last month’s national elections. He replaces Thabang Makwetla, who served as deputy minister from 2009.

He was elected president of the SA National Military Veterans Association (SANMVA), which includes all South African veterans ranging from Umkhonto we Sizwe, through to Apla and Azanla as well as retired SA Defence Force (SADF) and SA National Defence Force (SANDF) members.

He lists membership of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC as well as the party’s NEC peace and stability sub-committee and a two –year stint as a member of the ANC Greater Johannesburg Region regional executive committee and a term as a Johannesburg City councillor (proportional representative) as examples of his political leadership.

He led the task team on the veterans group for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2010 and was also a member of the South African Ministerial task team on military veterans in 2008.

In addition to presidency of SANMVA, Maphatsoe has been provincial chairman of the Gauteng MK Veterans Association and Johannesburg regional executive chair of the same association.

Maphatsoe acquired his junior military qualifications in Angola in 1986 and three years later completed an army officer’s course in Uganda before doing officer basic in 1991.

That he plans to continue being a hands-on man now that he is in the Defence Ministry was made clear in an interview he gave to Johannesburg daily The Star.

He said: “We can’t be an office-based department. I am going to be outside the office. People will rarely see me in the office. I’ll be on the ground with veterans trying to resolve their issues and uplift their lives.
“That’s my priority. People are dying. Situations are dire, so we can’t wait any longer. This includes the dependents of comrades. Or history will judge us otherwise.”