SANDF welcomes new chief

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pretoria - The newly appointed chief of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Solly Shoke has committed himself to an "exemplary leadership" and vowed to manage the defence force in a structured and disciplined manner.

Shokwe was sworn in as the new General of SANDF in a ceremony attended by President Jacob Zuma, Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and a host of military top officials. He succeeds veteran SANDF official Godfrey Ngwenya, who has been at the helm of the army since his appointment in 2005.

Shokwe's swearing in ceremony at the Pretoria Military Sports Club on Tuesday was followed by a defence force parade, the 17-gun salute and a fly pass. Both Zuma and Sisulu, who sat next to each other during the ceremony, continuously applauded as military officials performed the handing over functions to the new second-in-command.

In his last speech as the outgoing chief, Ngwenya said he was humbled to have served the country's defence force, citing its achievements in helping end wars in Africa.

"As I stand here, I feel like I bid farewell to a family as the SA National Defence Force has been to me all of these years I have been with the force," he said.

Throughout Ngwenya's term and that of his predecessors, SANDF has been a key player in peace keeping missions throughout the continent.

"The SANDF should take pride and credit in the work they have done in the continent and particularly in countries such as Burundi ... our commitment to the region and continent has and continues to guarantee peace in these areas," he said.

The end results of SANDF involvement in these countries had been an amazing success story and demonstrated to the whole world "what we are made of as South Africans," said Ngwenya.

The incoming chief Shokwe has been described as a man who served the defence force with "distinction" in various capacities since the establishment of the new SANDF in 1994.

Born in Alexandra township, north of Johannesburg, Shokwe left the country after 1976 and joined the African National Congress military wing, Umkhonto weSizwe, where he received basic military training in Angola and further training in the then Soviet Union.

Following the 1994 elections, he served the SANDF as its director for manpower planning and later director of army integration before taking up a post as SADC Forces' Mission commander of OpBOLEAS in Lesotho in 1998.

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