Sisulu bids farewell to ex-defence chief
Johannesburg - Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu bid farewell to former SA National Defence Force chief General Godfrey Ngwenya, who has been appointed South Africa's ambassador in Angola.
"He brought required stability and integrity into the defence force," Sisulu said in a speech prepared for delivery at a function on Wednesday night.
Ngwenya had to "hold up" the leadership of the defence force in 2008 when the then defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota and his deputy Mluleki George left the ANC to found the opposition party, the Congress of the People.
"When this unthinkable [situation] happened, we lost no sleep because we knew that the defence force was in the good hands of General Ngwenya - an unwavering patriot whose grasp of the political imperatives of our constitutional democracy is unquestionable," said Sisulu.
"With the political uncertainty that has engulfed the Arab world and some part[s] of Africa - we count ourselves lucky that we had such as he when he was needed."
Ngwenya led South Africa's first peace mission to Burundi and played a significant role in the transformation of South Africa's defence force.
"Today, the defence force is recognised, has sufficiently transformed and [is] efficiently responsible to be given its place as a state institution outside of the public service.
"Very few know how hard General Ngwenya worked to achieve these goals. He leaves the defence force in a better position with all the changes that we have implemented in the past two years."
Sisulu said he had "listened more than he talked" and had preferred to remain in the background, shunning the limelight.
She said it was under Ngwenya's command that South Africa had assisted in various continental peace missions.
Also under his command, the number of women generals in the SANDF increased from 12 to more than 30, including one major general; soldiers' conditions of service improved; the SANDF participated in the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup; the safety of the country's borders improved; and the SANDF twice helped prevent a health disaster during public service strikes.
The new chief of the defence force is General Solly Shoke.
Ngwenya, who has been awarded the Pro Patria Medal in silver for his service, spent time in Angola as part of the ANC's military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe during the struggle against apartheid.