POLOKWANE – The South African National Defence Force has been hailed as a developmental force, following revelations that the army had contributed immensely to skills development and ongoing efforts meant to arrest youth unemployment.
This was revealed during the 2020 edition of the annual Armed Forces Day celebrations, which recently took place in Polokwane, Limpopo Province. The event commemorates the lives of soldiers who perished in the English Channel in 1917, on board the SS Mendi during the First World War. This year’s event also marked the 30th anniversary of the release from Apartheid prison, of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black President, who by that virtue became the country’s National Defence Forces Commander In Chief. The day also pays tribute to the SANDF heroes and heroines who have dedicated their lives to serving the country and Africa.
Revelations made during the celebrations were that the SANDF had significantly contributed towards the growth of the South African economy through provision of various skills development programmes. A craeers showcase gave insight into the Military Skills Development System, one of the initiatives developed to tackle youth unemployment.
The military is also providing opportunities to small businesses, uplifting local economies where bases are situated, especially through Project Koba –Tlala. The SANDF has entered into a memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Small Business Development, to raise the department’s spend on small and medium enterprises from 30% to 50%.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, the SANDF’s Commander In-Chief, challenged the army to ensure that women-owned businesses accessed a bigger chunk of procurements, in line with the African Union’s call for the allocation of at least 25% of public procurement to women-owned businesses, up from the current 1%.
The SANDF was applauded for excellent services through the deployment of health professionals at public health facilities that needed rapid responses and for building bridges in rural areas, enabling access to places that are unreachable and for repairing sewerage infrastructure along the Vaal River and in the North West Province. The soldiers are also actively involved in the firefighting, mountain and maritime search and rescue operations, it was revealed.
In support of the Armed Forces Day 2020 celebrations, the SANDF officially handed over Sekutupu Old Age Home in the Capricorn District, following renovations of the facility, while revealing that it had identified the home as a worthy recipient of its Legacy Project.
The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, was commended for establishing the Ministerial Task Team against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in the Military, meant to address social ills by men and giving weight to efforts to end gender-based violence in the country and the continent.
In preparation of the Armed Forces Day 2020, the African Voice Global team spoke to Lieutenant Colonel
Faith Mokou at Roodewal Bomb Range in Makhado, during the Capability Demonstration mock
‘simulated of joint warfare’ from all fighting elements of the SANDF.
Lt. Col. Mokou joined the military in 2002; she’s in the Army Intelligence Corp. Currently, she’s a Research and Development Officer in the Army Intelligence Commission and also does Corporate Communications. Her involvement in the Armed Forces Day 2020 was to assist with protocols.
“Being in the army at some point you forget that you are a woman, whether you like it or not, you need to do what men do. I have been to three deployments in Democratic Republic of Congo and twice in Burundi and it’s a learning curve,” said Lt. Col. Mokou.