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President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday announced Lieutenant-General Rudzani Maphwanya as the new Chief of the South African National Defence Force and the Military Command.

Lieutenant-General Maphwanya replaces General Solly Shoke who retires at the end of this month.

He will assume his new responsibilities on 1 June 2021 where he will be promoted from Lieutenant-General to General.

Announcing the new Chief of the South African National Defence Force and the Military Command, President Ramaphosa said since its formation nearly 27 years ago, the SANDF has been vital to the preservation of peace and stability in the land.

The SANDF has as its central mission the protection of the South African nation and the defence of the democratic constitutional order.

“It has made a valuable contribution to the country’s development, and to strengthening the bonds of friendship and solidarity with other countries in our region and on our continent. It has given effect to our determination to be a nation at peace with itself and the world,” President Ramaphosa said.

Thanking the outgoing Chief of the SANDF, President Ramaphosa said General Shoke retires after years of distinguished service to the people of South Africa.

“He has led the Military Command of the SANDF over the years with distinction, and especially as the principal policy adviser to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans.

“A young activist of the 1976 generation, General Shoke became a combatant of Umkhonto we Sizwe and commander in various roles, ultimately serving in the SANDF after the integration process in April 1994.

“He distinguished himself in the early days of integration as Major General and Chief Human Resources Support. He took over the reins as Lieutenant General and Chief of the South African Army, a responsibility he held until his appointment as Chief of the SANDF 2011,” President Ramaphosa said.

Since becoming President and Commander-in-Chief in 2018, President Ramaphosa said he has admired and appreciated General Shoke’s professionalism, diligence and wise counsel.

The appointment of a new head of South Africa’s armed forces is accompanied by the following appointments to the Military Command – Major-General Wiseman Simo Mbambo is appointed as Chief of the South African Air Force; Major-General Siphiwe Sangweni as Chief of Joint Operations as of 1 June 2021 and Major-General Ntshavheni Maphaha is appointed as Surgeon General with effect from 1 November 2021.

The President also announced the appointment of Major-General Thalita Mxakato as Chief of Defence Intelligence as of 1 June 2021.

“Once she assumes her position as the Chief of Defence Intelligence, Major-General Mxakato will become the first woman to be appointed to the Military Command of the SANDF,” President Ramaphosa said.


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