Might is right

2012-04-25 00:00

WHEN I read Jan-Jan Joubert’s article titled “Lindiwe Sisulu’s four big secrets” published on your website I asked a friend if we should reply. He cautioned that I would be increasing the number of people from three to four who take Joubert seriously. He added that the only people who take Joubert seriously are himself, his shadow, the editor of Politicsweb and then it would be me. But for the sake of your innocent readers, let me just clarify some of Joubert’s fiction and dramatised statements aimed at increasing the number of people who take him seriously to four or five.


First, l must indicate that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is the last line of defence in our country. The SANDF is tasked with protecting our borders and state. It is a serious organisation dealing with the serious responsibility of protecting the nation and its people at all times. Unlike Joubert, we are not busy with attracting few friends with dramatised paragraphs of nothing.

On the issue of unions, there is no room for unions in the SANDF. More has been achieved in the SANDF since 2009 without a single union meeting in more than 10 years of the SANDF being unionised. Conditions of services are better, salaries are better, grievance mechanisms are better and today we are embarking on the biggest infrastructure-maintenance programme seen in the SANDF.

We have come to the conclusion that the SANDF is better off without unions. Only about 15% of our close to 80 000 soldiers are unionised. No union sits in the bargaining chamber because it does not reach the threshold. If Joubert and his shadows do not like that they must form a political party and contest elections, and then take a different position from that one.

Unlike Joubert and some of his friends in the opposition (by the way, they are in the opposition because they did not win elections if we are to remind anyone), we have the serious responsibility of running the SANDF. We will not become excited and share confidential information to attract newspaper headlines. Parliament has the Portfolio Committee and Joint Standing Committee on Defence tasked with different responsibilities. We will only reply to questions when they are asked in the right forum.

We will not apologise for protecting our national assets. Those who seek to excite their shadows at the expense of the SANDF are not friends of the SANDF, but story tellers whose dramas will only excite a few for a few minutes.

We should also not be blamed when some opposition members choose to ask things that are in annual reports, quarterly reports and other documents. In the name of free education we will refer them to those documents, and where necessary provide them with a new copy in a language they understand best.

All operational issues of the SANDF must be referred to Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee to protect important defence issues of the SANDF. Unlike those who want to excite their shadows, we will insist on that at all times, even when they pretend that they do not know in order to attract the media.

We will protect the SANDF from those whose only interest is to appear on television and in newspapers lambasting the good work our soldiers are doing across the continent, the borders of South Africa, protecting our rhinos, fighting piracy, building bridges, and working with other law enforcement agencies to protect our people.

The ministry will continue to call on Parliament to activate the Joint Standing Committee on Defence for us to account properly and in detail in an appropriate forum. Unlike Joubert and his friends, we are not interested in newspaper headlines, but in proper accountability through Parliament to our people. Many South Africans whose interest in the SANDF is not to make newspaper headlines will support the minister in the activation of a proper forum to which this pride of the nation can report and account in detail but also protect the security and the force that protects our people.


• Ndivhuwo Mabaya is Head of Media Services at the Ministry of Defence

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