Pretoria – The outgoing Chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), General Solly Shoke’s last advice to the country has been to work towards improving its sovereign capabilities to avoid being dictated to.
Shoke was speaking after he officially stepped down as the head of the country’s defence force handing the baton over to Lieutenant-General Rudzani Maphwanya at Thaba Tshwane.
The former head said he was confident he was leaving the defence force in capable hands. He said they had executed all of their tasks during his tenure even in instances of difficult circumstances and dwindling resources at their disposal.
He further urged the men and women in uniform not to despair or be discouraged by the negative publicity that they received while pleading for them to learn from their mistakes and move forward as better soldiers.
“I call upon us in uniform to rise above our personal interests including political interests and serve South Africa and her people as loyal servants. We should also collectively begin getting rid of some negative elements in our midst who serve their selfish interests and thus bringing our good name into disrepute.”
“We must continue to do more with less in the midst of these difficult economic times our country faces.”
And even though Shoke took the opportunity to thank Cuba for their assistance with capacitating their members to recover and restore some of the capabilities that were almost lost.
Stating that their efforts had saved the country billions of rands contrary to some of the negative narrative that was circulating in the public space.
“You shall always be in our hearts for your sacrifices and support to the South African National Defence Force.”
He said the one thing that pained him the most as he was leaving was the gross underfunding they were experiencing as he said he believed it was affecting the defence forces capabilities.
“Sometimes people don’t appreciate the relationship between the defence force, the military industry and sovereign capabilities. What is happening with Denel is something we should be worried about as it has serious implications for the country and the functioning of the force.”
“If we don’t have sovereign capabilities people will send to you whatever they have and dictate what you must do as a nation, we should be proud to be South Africans and be proud of our sovereignty so that we can be able to do things on our own without any terms being placed on us by anybody.”