Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Ramaphosa announces ‘substantial changes’ to armed forces leadership

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced five new appointments to the Military Command Council (MCC), bidding farewell to the controversial chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), General Solly Shoke.

During an announcement on Wednesday evening, 14 April, Ramaphosa, as commander-in-chief of the SANDF, welcomed five new members to the MCC as several members retire or are on their way out. 

Ramaphosa noted that this was the “most substantial change of command of the armed forces in several years”.

Appointed as the new chief of the SANDF is Lieutenant-General Rudzani Maphwanya, who will be promoted to general when he starts in his new role on     1 June 2021. 

“Lt-Gen Maphwanya is a highly decorated officer with vast operational experience. His military career began in 1978 in Umkhonto weSizwe and, since 1994, he has held numerous positions in the SANDF,” Ramaphosa said. 

Soon to join Maphwanya is Major-General Siphiwe Sangweni as chief of joint operations, Major-General Wiseman Simo Mbambo as chief of the South African Air Force, Major-General Ntshavheni Maphaha as surgeon general, and Major-General Thalita Mxakato as chief of defence intelligence — the first woman to hold this rank. 

“Before joining the defence intelligence division in 2003, [Mxakato] served in the South African Military Health Services and the defence inspectorate division. This is a significant — and long-overdue — development in the ongoing effort to advance the position of women in our armed forces,” the president said. 

The SANDF has found itself knee-deep in several controversies in the past year. 

In May 2020, the force came under scrutiny after the death of Collins Khosa, who was assaulted by members of the SANDF and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department during the country’s Covid-19 lockdown. 

There was also the issue of senior ANC members last year hitching a ride to Zimbabwe on an airforce jet with Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. The minister ended up having her salary docked for three months, and the governing party had to pay back R105 000 for abusing state resources. 

Also denting the defence force’s image is the fact that the defence and military veterans’ portfolio committee is investigating alleged irregularities in the SANDF’s more than R200-million expenditure on Cuban medicine in 2020, initially meant for fighting Covid-19. 

The medicine turned out to have no prior approval from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, nor was it registered with the authority. 

On Thursday, Parliament’s joint standing committee on defence welcomed the new appointments, while broadly acknowledging the “challenges” facing the force. 

“The appointments offer stability and effective succession planning, which is critical in ensuring that the defence force is able to deliver on its objective of defending and protecting the Republic, its territorial integrity and its people,” said the committee’s co-chairperson, Mamagase Nchabeleng.  

Co-chair Cyril Xaba added: “While the challenges faced by the SANDF are many, especially with the budget shortfall, we have full confidence in the appointed leaders to effectively resolve those challenges.”

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a junior daily news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She was previously a freelance journalist and a broadcaster at Maroela Media and Smile90.4FM.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

R350 relief grant will be paid into bank accounts or...

There are concerns that post office branch closures will make it difficult for beneficiaries to access the grant

South Africa at risk of spillover from international inflation, economists...

Higher international oil prices, for example, could affect local transport costs through second-round effects

More top stories

We have lost more than three years of life expectancy...

Covid deniers and anti-vaxxers seem to want more excess deaths and a shorter life span

Schooling and Covid: A new UN report tracks adaptations in...

The pandemic precipitated a global experiment in education, which Unesco is keen to document and support

Cape Town transport stabilised after two weeks of taxi violence

But despite the calm, rival taxi associations have not yet made peace in their turf war
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×