At least two of the latest round of senior promotions in the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) show expertise is subservient to political correctness in the military, according to the political opposition.
With a myriad of problems facing it, not the least of which is a shortage of finance to do its work properly, the SANDF would do far better to appoint officers of a better calibre to start boosting morale and discipline in the ranks, said Dr Pieter Groenewald, Freedom Front Plus defence and security spokesman.
He points to the incoming SA Navy Chief, currently Rear Admiral Samuel Hlongwane, as one of the appointments that will not improve the maritime arm of service.
“He is a counter-intelligence officer with no combat or operational experience and has no expertise in actual naval operations.
“On the other side, Rear Admiral Hanno Teuteberg was passed over for the post of Navy Chief and has been named as Hlongwane’s deputy. Teuteberg is a seasoned officer with decades of experience and has also served on submarines in addition to his current posting as Director: Maritime Strategy,” Groenewald said.
Military analyst Helmoed Heitman told Afrikaans daily Beeld that Hlongwane was “an experienced officer but will battle to fill the boots of Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu who has built up a good reputation in international naval circles”.
An example of this is the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS). Mudimu is currently chairman of this 35 country initiative with the main aim of increasing maritime co-operation among the navies of Indian Ocean littoral states. It has been in existence since February 2008 when the inaugural IONS conference was held in New Delhi, India.
Groenewald is also not pleased with the promotion to Major General of Nonotobeko Mpaxa, the first woman to head up the SA Army’s Intelligence Formation. She has been named Chief Director: Force Preparation for the landward and largest arm of the SANDF.
He maintains charges of alleged drunk driving and unlawful conduct against subordinates laid against her while she was commandant of the Combat Training Centre (CTC) at Lohathla make her promotion counter-productive for morale and discipline in the SANDF.
“Appointments such as these serve as an indicator to all soldiers that hard work, expertise and discipline are not necessarily rewarded,” Groenewald said.