The Chief of the SA National Defence Force, General Solly Z Shoke, will be retiring on 31 May 2021 at the age of 65. He joined the SANDF in 1994, having transferred from Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the African National Congress, when all the armed forces in South Africa, including the South African Defence Force, independent homeland armies (Transkei, Ciskei, Bophutatswana and Venda) and Apla, were brought together to form the SANDF. General Shoke served the SANDF for a period of 27 years. President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as president of the Republic and commander in chief of the SANDF announced that General Shoke, who served as Chief of the SANDF since 2011, will be succeeded by Lt General Rudzani Maphanywa as Chief of the SANDF with effect from 01 June 2021. Lt Gen Maphanywa will simultaneously be promoted to the rank of General. He is 61 years of age and will serve as Chief of the SANDF for a period of 5 years. He is currently Chief of Joint Operations. Until 1994, he was a member of Umkhonto we Sizwe which he joined in 1978.
Chief of the Air Force, Lt gen Z Msimang, also retired in September 2020. Chief of Defence Intelligence, Lt-Gen Jeremiah Nyembe and chief of the S A Military Health Services, Surgeon Gen Zola Dabula will also be retiring in due course. Maj Gen Wiseman Mbambo has been appointed as the new chief of the South African Air Force. Maj Gen Siphiwe Sangweni will take over as the new chief of Joint Operations from 01 June 2021. Maj Gen Ntshavheni Maphaha will take over as Surgeon General from 01 Nov 2021. Maj gen Thalita Mxakato will take over as chief of military intelligence from 01 June 2021. She will be the first woman to serve on the Military Command Council. These major generals will be promoted to the ranks of Lt Generals upon assumption of their new offices. The SANDF has organised tours of its bases to make the announcement officially to the troops.
President Ramaphosa praised the SANDF for its contribution in maintaining peace and stability within the country and on the African continent as part of African Union and United Nations operations, particularly in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other countries in the region.
President Ramaphosa is hopeful that the SANDF will continue to carry-out its responsibilities to protect the integrity of South Africa’s borders under the new leadership.