Address at the South African National Defence Force Day Parade – 2000/04/27

Bloemfontein, 27 April 2000

Vice President Abubakar of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Madame Abubakar,
Deputy President Jacob Zuma and Mrs. Zuma,
Minister Lekota,
Minister Ngubane,
Minister Sigcau,
Deputy Minister Madlala-Routledge,
Premier Direko,
General Nyanda,

Members of the SANDF:

I am pleased to welcome our eminent guests and the members of the Department of Defence present here today. Today we are here in Bloemfontein to celebrate the 6th founding anniversary of the SANDF.

It is also my privilege to welcome into the Defence family our new Minister of Defence, Mr Mosiuoa Lekota, his deputy Ms Madlala-Routledge and our recently appointed Secretary for Defence, Mr J. Masilela. They have already started to make and will continue to make substantive contributions to the efficiency of the Department of Defence and the security of our country.

This year not only marks the 6th anniversary of the SANDF, but it is also the 80th birthday year of the South African Air Force (SAAF) and the Golden Jubilee of the Military Academy.

Congratulations to these important national institutions on their respective birthdays. Today is also our Freedom Day, one on which we should renew our resolve to realise the goals for which we fought, a day on which we should further commit ourselves to m eet the objectives set out in our constitution.

As ordered by the South African Development Community (SADC), together with Botswana we committed our forces to bring normality and stability in our neighbouring country, Lesotho. Having obtained their given objectives, the bulk of these forces have alread y withdrawn to their respective bases. One combined Botswana Defence Force – SANDF Company remains to complete the restructuring and retraining of the Lesotho Defence Force under the banner of Operation Maluti.

As part of the transformation of our society, important developments have taken place in the SANDF

These include the publication and adoption of the Codes of Conduct for the uniformed members of the SANDF and for the Public Service Act personnel serving wi th the Department of Defence. These Codes evolved from the Constitution, the White Paper on Defence and the principles of International Law.

For the SANDF, these Codes capture its core values and provide a vision of military professionalism in a democratic South Africa. For all members of the Department of Defence, the Codes provide the essential ethical values that contribute to a firm foundat ion of discipline, morale and commitment that underpins the fulfilment of our Constitutional and legal obligations.

The Codes were a product of the transformation process with contributions from all Departments, NGOs and members of the public. They reflect, therefore, the values of each and every member tasked with serving the interests of South Africa and its people. O n 15 February of this year, the top structure of the military and the public servants demonstrated their commitment by signing the codes.

I am pleased to learn that the transformation process within the Department of Defence is proceeding, with the staffing of the posts within the new structure taking place, giving many members security of tenure. The former territorial commands have been re placed by five new Regional Joint Task Forces and the establishment of type formations as intermediate structures covering the main user systems such as Infantry, Armour, Air Fighter Groups and the Fleet as part of ensuring more efficiency and less duplica tion.

However, much remains to be done to speed up rationalisation, representativity and gender equity. While there has been a marked improvement in the representative nature of the top structure, more effort has to be devoted to the transformation of middle man agement. The continued application of our Equal Opportunity and Affirmation Action programmes is making its mark and will be the basis of continuous modernisation until all main objectives have been achieved.

In our efforts to streamline the SANDF into a leaner, yet more effective organisation, there has been a reduction in personnel. But it is clear that more needs to be done in this regard including finalisation of such packages as would be offered.

Sports and Recreation are given every encouragement within the SANDF as part of the Training Schedule. We recognise fully that a healthy mind and body is essential to the building of a combat-ready soldier.

In this regard, I commend the members who represented the SANDF at the Second World Military Games in ZAGREB, Croatia. They all tried their utmost to excel in their various disciplines and the nation can be proud of them. As the current leader of the East and Southern African Liaison Office (ESALO), we will strive to uphold the fine traditions of the international body, the International Military Sport Council (CISM), and promote friendship through sport amongst the military formations in the region.

The SANDF is as always combat-ready for any assignment. However, the emphasis at the moment is on training for peace support operations. This entails combined and joint training with our regional allies. This is in preparation for mandated missions by the United Nations, the Organisation of African unity or the Southern African Development Community. Military Liaison Officers and Military Observers have already been trained and are ready for deployment. A contingent of SANDF troops is on stand-by to join th e larger UN force if so requested.

The SAAF and SA Navy in particular will benefit from the acquisition of new aircraft and ships and this in turn will contribute to the general upliftment that is taking place.

Today we must acknowledge the role and importance of the SANDF in the every-day lives of our people, the way in which they given their services for the benefit of our nation and our people.

Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank members of the SANDF for the important role they played in the general election, both in the registration phase and in the conduct of the election itself.

Another notable contribution has been the role of the SANDF through the combined efforts of the SAAF and our Regular and Reserve forces, in co-operation with the civil authorities in bringing extinguishing fires that raged through the Western Cape.

Furthermore, consistent support has been given to the SAP Service to combat crime and ensure the safety and security of all our citizens. The SANDF in collaboration with the South African Police Service (SAPS) has mounted patrols, and conducted cordon and search operations including roadblocks, in areas where the lives of ordinary people have been disrupted by criminal elements and gangsterism.

We have been successful in the apprehension of criminals, the recovery of stolen weapons, vehicles and livestock, and the seizure of drugs.

Most important, in my own name and on the behalf of the nation as a whole, we commend the truly outstanding work done by our soldiers during the recent floods. We take this opportunity to convey our heartfelt appreciation and thanks for their selfless cont ributions in providing help and assistance to the South African victims of flood disasters in the Northern Province, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal and to our brothers and sisters in Mozambique.

The heroic images of our soldiers picking up desperate women, men and children who were clinging to trees and rooftops, awaiting rescue, will forever remain in our collective memory here in South Africa and everywhere in the world. It is clear that the pil ots and crews of our helicopter units, together with members of the Military Health Service, performed feats demanding the highest forms of bravery, magnificent control of their equipment, high professional competence and utmost dedication to the tasks.

Many other members of the SANDF, Regular and Reserve, who packed and delivered tons of humanitarian aid, supported them. The engineers also deserve great credit for their response in repairing damaged roads and bridges in the worst effected areas in our co untry as well.

Such was the collective and combined efforts of our soldiers that they succeeded in saving precious lives and delivering relief to areas in dire need. In so doing they saved many people from certain death.

They presented the caring face of our nation to the world and the living reality of a country that respects and values its people and its neighbours and will do anything humanly possible to promote the peoplecentred, humane society we are all striving for .

My congratulations go out to everyone concerned. I take this opportunity to commend to the nation the members of the National Defence Force concerned, together with their comrades-in-arms who died in Lesotho in defence of freedom and democracy.

The performance on parade today has been a fine example of the cohesion and esprit de corps that now exists. This bodes well for our future as a nation and a truly South African National Defence Force.

For all these activities, I pay tribute to the Minister of Defence and his team of leaders and to every member of the Department for loyalty and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. We are proud of you, General Siphiwe Nyanda, your fellow officers a nd the men and women you lead for your tireless work and commitment to a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.

We thank you all humbly for your service to the nation.

I thank you.

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