President Cyril Ramaphosa praises SANDF, admits resource ‘challenges’

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President Cyril Ramaphosa during Armed Forces Day in Mbombela, Mpumalanga.

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa has acknowledged that the SANDF’s resources are a “challenge”.
  • On Armed Forces Day in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, he commended the defense force for its work over the past year.
  • He said unrest in parts of the country in July “left deep wounds”.

While praising the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) for its work over the past year, President Cyril Ramaphosa admitted that defense force resources were a “challenge” amid his charge of increasing work.

The president was speaking at this year’s Armed Forces Day in Mbombela, Mpumalanga on Monday.

“Over the past year, under difficult, demanding and unprecedented conditions in our democratic history, the men and women of the South African National Defense Force have served this country with the greatest distinction,” said Ramaphosa.

He added that the SANDF assisted in the “implementation and maintenance” of the national state of disaster in the first weeks and months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It has been seven months since parts of South Africa experienced the worst unrest in the history of our democracy, resulting in loss of life, destruction of infrastructure and devastation of businesses. SANDF was there , helping law enforcement to restore order and protect key economic infrastructure.”

READ | SANDF deployment in Mozambique extended indefinitely could cost taxpayers R3 billion

“And when our Parliament was engulfed in fire earlier this year, it was our personnel from the military aviation rescue and firefighting services at Ysterplaat air base who were among the first responders to put out the flames.

SANDF also helped when a cyclone caused “floods and havoc” in Mozambique.

He said:

The government of Mozambique continues to fight a deadly insurgency in the north that poses a threat to the security and stability of the entire region.

The SANDF is also deployed there as part of the South African Development Community mission.

“I had the privilege of meeting the troops earlier this month when I attended the National Heroes Day celebrations in Mozambique. It was quite an emotional moment to meet those who have wanted and are committed to serving the people of southern Africa, like so much to do to serve our country.”

Ramaphosa said he welcomed the 15 members of the SA infantry battalion from their deployment to the Democratic Republic of Congo last month.

“Since 2001, SANDF members have been involved in peacekeeping operations as part of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC, known as MONUSCO.

“At all these times of uncertainty, crisis and very real danger for our country, for our neighbors and for our African continent, the SANDF has been there.”

READ | Looming budget cuts will lead SANDF to become weaker, older and less qualified – expert

Ramaphosa said that as Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF he could not be prouder.

“As a people, we are reassured that whatever circumstances our nation faces, the SANDF will always be there.

“The SANDF is one of the last lines of defense to restore order, maintain calm, support our people and defend the territorial integrity of our republic.”

Ramaphosa added:

The terrible experiences of the July 2021 unrest left deep wounds.

He said the unrest has tested the authority of the state and the strength of our democracy.

“At this time of great crisis, the sight of a SANDF member in uniform there, keeping us safe, restoring calm, was reassuring at a time when many were afraid.”

Ramaphosa paid tribute to Corporal Tebogo Radebe, who was killed in Cabo Delgado late last year while deployed as part of the SADC mission in Mozambique.

“The entire country owes a debt of gratitude to his family for selflessly sharing it with us so that he can fulfill his patriotic duty to serve the country of his ancestors.

“We remember all of our fallen soldiers in the line of duty in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Sudan.”

He added:

These brave soldiers died for the cause of peace and freedom in Africa. Their deaths remind us that our freedom, our way of life and the peace we enjoy as a country have a price.

Ramaphosa added that the SANDF has many challenges.

“Our military, like all other state organs, has had to conduct its substantial operations in the face of extremely limited resources and a growing catalog of commitments.

“I commend the leadership of our military and all members of our armed forces for assuming their responsibilities even as we grapple with funding challenges that affect various defense programs and development activities.

“We are looking, within these constraints, for ways to better equip our defense force with the tools it needs to fulfill its mandate.”

He said SANDF chief General Rudzani Maphwanya has always raised the shortage of resources with him and Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs Thandi Modise.


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