Former and current South African Army Gunners have a new patron looking out for their interests.
Fort iKapa military base in Cape Town was the scene on May 27 where out-going General of the Gunners, Major General Roy Andersen handed over the Tokens of Office to newly appointed General of the Gunners, Major General Jabu Mbuli.
SA Army Gunners encompass both Air Defence Artillery (ADA) and Field Gunners.
As Major General Nontobeko Mpaxa, Chief Army Force Preparation, explained in her address, the duties of the General of the Gunners are ceremonial in nature. “His primary responsibility is to promote the interests and traditions of both the Artillery and Air Defence Corps. He is a spokesman for all South African Gunners, serving and non-serving, nationally and internationally.”
Anderson, the Current Chief Defence Reserves , has served the armed forces of South Africa for more than 50 years (he is to receive the Medal for Loyal Service – 50 Years this week) and was appointed as General of the Gunners on December 1, 2005.
Having handed back the Tokens of Office, Anderson addressed the guests consisting of both serving and ex-service members of the ADA Formation. He noted during his 50 year military career “few of the privileges I’ve experienced compare with the honour of becoming the General of the Gunners”.
Apart from attending such functions as memorial services, change of command and medal parades, he particularly enjoyed seeing the displays by the two formations at various public events. “Why did I enjoy that?” he asked, “Because I could talk to the Gunners, shake their hands and talk to them about matters Gunners.”
Taking a more serious note, he stated “the role of General of the Gunners has a far deeper meaning. We are responsible for setting the Gunner tone and making sure traditions are maintained”.
“The two formations, the Gunners Association, the Regular Force and the Reserve Force, are one big family.”
“I may be handing over as General of the Gunners, but I’ll always be a Gunner,” he concluded.
On receiving the Tokens of Office, Mbuli (current Chief Director Defence Acquisition Management), formally acknowledged the responsibility bestowed on him.
“With every title comes associated responsibilities associated,” he declared, “I am a Gunner and I’ll promote the image and traditions of the Gunners”.
Recognising the role played by ex-service members, he said: “I’m especially glad this ceremony is also attended by our veterans. It has always been fruitful to revisit the history and past traditions when taking Gunners into the future. Our veterans are a great source of knowledge and that is still applicable.”
Mbuli was appointed and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General as Chief of Logistics of the SANDF with effect from 1 July 2017.
After the Change of Office Ceremony, both Generals were given the opportunity to fire a GV1 25-pounder ceremonial gun.