Year-end is traditionally when courses and programmes finish and those enrolled take part in passing out parades to mark successful completion.
The SA Naval College is no different and December saw the culmination of the annual MTO1 (Military Training for Officers) course with 59 young sailors on parade reviewed by SA Navy Chief Vice Admiral Mosiwa Hlongwane.
Forty-nine SAN sailors were the bulk of the parade with five University Training Programme students and four Namibians making up the balance.
Every SANDF member undergoes leadership training from the moment they volunteer for military service the maritime service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) said. For those willing to accept greater responsibility, Military Training for Officers, exists. This nine-month course moulds sailors from different racial and national backgrounds, into leaders. “This years’ parade is unique in that it occurred during the 25 years of democracy celebrations,” said Captain (SAN) Padre Joseph Mara, Senior Staff Officer Navy Chaplain.
In line with the 25 years of democracy theme and ending the year with officer training, President Cyril Ramaphosa, who spoke at a conference held at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) earlier this year emphasised the role a military officer plays in democracy. He said, “South Africa’s peace-building efforts across Africa, specifically in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Darfur, Sudan, and Burundi, were recognition that security and peace are central to economic prosperity in Africa.” At each of these sites, a military officer was in command of every aspect of operations. Their beginnings can each be traced to a Military College. For the navy, it is Naval College Gordon’s Bay.
Situated at the foot of the Hottentots-Holland Mountain, Naval College Gordon’s Bay began its days as a training unit for merchant cadets. The college as it is today began in April 1966. Currently, Captain (SAN) Khulile Mahlombe commands this institution. He took command on 27 March last year. On the day he stated, “I see my role as not just to instil leadership and management skills in our recruits, but also to bring more social awareness and allow them to go into our local communities.”
After two and a half decades of democracy, South Africa has become a true ‘Rainbow Nation’ striving for a peaceful co-existence and unity of different cultural and ethno-racial groups as one of the country’s main achievements according to the SA Navy website. Having military leaders who do not see racial divides helps strengthen democracy, ensuring unity in the face of adversity within communities and setting the course for a better future for all South Africans.
C Navy mentioned in his speech that, “since 1994, this College has repositioned itself as a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for producing the calibre of officer representative of our constitutional democracy.” After an awards ceremony, he ended the parade saying the challenges faced are not by the SA Navy alone, but by the country as a whole, and can only be overcome as a collective.