Honourable Ms. Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa- Nqakula, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, attended the CSANDF Ladies Golf Day hosted by General Shoke, which was held at the Service Golf Club in the City of Tshwane on the 10 August 2018. In her press briefing before tee off, the minister responded to several questions with great empathy for the SANDF members and women in particular. Her pride in maintaining a peace loving nation was evident in her articulation as she passionately expressed her excitement at being present at the chief’s golf day encouraging all the golfers who came out to play.
1. In your portfolio you are responsible for overseeing the department of defence, the department of military veterans and the South African National Defence Force. This in a male dominated industry. What message do you have for women in similar situations or positions?
The minister’s reply: “Women who are in leadership positions need to understand the dynamics of the constituency that they are working with. Secondly, they need to be firm and they need to understand the regulations and the laws that drive the deployment of the mandate in each department. My way of doing things is, I prefer to be very persuasive in how I deal with issues, particularly challenges, especially as they relate to issues of relations with the people that we work with. I can be very persuading but when the time comes, when I take a decision, I am firm and everybody knows. I’m that kind of person.”
2. In terms of a woman leading, the emotion comes into it very strongly; should we see it as a positive?
The minister’s reply: “I think it is a positive thing, but it equally can be a negative. The one thing that I know which some have raised is, I always have to race things and say move quickly and then later on, it turns out something big was going to happen if we had not moved. I think for me it has to do with a strong instinct, which we sometimes have as women. I have had to deal with many cases in this particular way; so you’ve got to be rational in taking decisions, but equally, if you feel very strongly on a matter, you’ve got to pursue it.”
3. How important is the image of the SANDF?
The minister’s reply: “ I’m glad to say that for now, the image of the defence force in the eyes of the South African public is good. Yes, we may be having one or two challenges, but in their name, I think that South Africans give a lot of support to the defence force. My message is always that, South Africans must rally behind the Defence Force, because it is your last line of the defence of the Republic of South Africa. I also always tell people that the reason why we live so peacefully and have no worries about invasion of our country is because of the South African National Defence Force, which works closely obviously with the rest of the security cluster, which is your intelligence structure and the base; so for me the image is very important.”
4. Do you believe that we have honoured Nelson Mandela’s policy of a Defence in Democracy from his period of presidency until date?
The minister’s reply: “I believe we have stayed true to our mission, I believe we have stayed true to the aspirations of South Africans. When we were writing that constitution and when we wrote the Defence Act and passed it on and even when we conducted the Defence review of 1997/1998, all of us were saying we want a particular kind of Defence Force, which will be non partisan, we want a defence force that will be true to the constitution and the flag of the Republic of South Africa. I believe with regards to the defence force, the spirit of Madiba, and those great mothers and fathers who fought for our democracy remains. For me as a woman who is at the helm of the defence force, I’m inspired by the spirit which lives on of Mama Sisulu, who is the one, by the way, who nominated President Nelson Mandela in parliament on that day; a day that we will forever remember. She stood up, as a woman, nominated Nelson Mandela and that’s how President Nelson Mandela became the president of the Republic of South Africa.”
5. What is the SANDF and your ministry doing to stay on top of technological advancements and to ensure that the best communication services and strategies are in place?
The minister’s reply: “The truth of the matter is some of the technologies we see now, which are there, are technologies which were initiated by the SANDF then, together with the defence industries at the time. I do feel that the SANDF has not maximised the use of social media in particular. At this stage, we need to advance because the world has advanced and social media has become the vehicle for influencing the thinking of people and we therefore need to influence the thinking of South Africans and even the perceptions that the world has about us as a country. Our current president of the country is passionate about ensuring that entire security cluster of the Republic of South Africa should start taking that seriously. The truth is our youth is way ahead of us, so it is important that we create a system where we are able to influence their thinking, so that we don’t leave it to social media to influence their thinking.”
6. What is the positive message you’d like to convey to South Africans about the SANDF in general and how females are leading within that space whilst working together with their male counterparts?
The minister’s reply: “I do want South Africans to know that we are torch bearers of peace in the continent. If you look at the history of where the SANDF has been you’ll see that we’ve been in Cote D’lvoire, we’ve been in Burundi, we’ve been in Central Africa Republic and we are currently in the DRC; we’ve been in a number of areas where we’ve performed excellently and it is because of the spirit of Mandela, of ensuring that our foreign policy is that of being peace makers.
I’d like to say that young people should join the SANDF in their numbers, that the SANDF has various career opportunities, that is doesn’t matter which service you are in; that you will find young women. If you go to SAMS you will find young doctors who serve in the SANDF, if you join the air force you will find opportunities to train as an engineer or even as a pilot, if you go into the Navy you’ll find young women, if you go into the army, in the infantry itself, in artillery, you will find young women!
So I’d like to say to our young people that they should not look at the Defence Force as a last resort, the Defence Force is not about that, it should be your first choice of career. It is such a wonderful feeling to know that you are wearing uniform with pride and that you are defending South Africans.”
Interview conducted by Rayana Edwards UniMedia Pro Co Founder
for more info on the Chief SANDF Golf Day
Caroline Chinyanga: Communications
South African Army Foundation
Article written by: Moliehi Didie Makobane UniMedia Pro Intern Writer and Researcher
Photo taken by Alison Tu: UniMedia Photographer