Speaking Notes of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF during an Inter-Faith Church Service in preparation for the marking of the Armed Forces Day

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula,

Ministers and Deputy Ministers present,

Premier of the Province of the Northern Cape, Ms Sylvia Lucas,

Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Makhudu Gulube,

Chief of South African National Defence Force, General Solly Shoke,

Generals, Admirals, Officers, Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers,

Military Veterans,

Religious Leaders,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a tremendous honour to join our nation in affirming the undying bonds between our people and our national pride, the South African National Defence Force.

On Wednesday � 21st February 2018 � our nation will observe South Africa’s Armed Forces Day.

The marking of the 21st February allows our nation never to forget the heroic sacrifices of our soldiers who died that fateful morning when the SS Mendi sank in the English Channel.

It has become a day that allows us to remember all men and women who paid the ultimate prize in defence of freedom, peace, and justice.

It is a day that reminds us that blood was spilled by countless South Africans and freedom fighters to guarantee us our freedom and human rights.

It is a reminder that brave men and women continue to put their lives on the line to secure and hard-won freedoms and defend our Constitution.

This year, these celebrations carry a profound and special meaning for our nation.

They occur at a time where our defence force has once again confirmed the depth of the roots of our democracy and the flourishing of Constitutional order.

They occur as our nation celebrates the change of leadership in the governing party without any appetite for senseless bloodshed because our Defence Force is led by wise women and men who abide to the ideal of the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law.

They are even more significant because they occur in a year when South Africa commemorates the centenary birthday of our first Commander in Chief, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

It is this SANDF � the People’s National Defence Force � that our founding father, President Nelson Mandela envisaged as a non-partisan unifier and defender of all South Africans.

As its first Commander-in-Chief, President Mandela moulded the SANDF into a law-abiding institution that upholds the Constitution of the Republic in defence of its people.

President Mandela left us a coherent SANDF whose task is to diligently safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic, build peace, and support development on the African continent.

He left us a National Defence Force that is a true microcosm of our diverse society.

This is an SANDF that inspires confidence for a better, more secure tomorrow.

A truly national defence force for all South Africans that guarantees that its tanks and guns will never again roll into townships and suburbs to fight against the very same people it was established to protect.

We pay tribute to the men and women that wear the SANDF uniform and bear arms on behalf of South Africans.

Your patriotism is felt throughout our country through community initiatives like Koba Tlala.

We look to you to remain the disciplined soldiers and agents of rural development through Koba Tlala, local procurement, small business support, skills development, and enterprise development.

Thank you for lending a hand in the renewal and development of our beloved country.

We applaud the major role that our Department of Defence is playing in actively promoting our Defence Force as a career of choice.

We are aware of your various skills and training opportunities targeting our young people.

Government is committed to support these initiatives as part of strategies to absorb our young people into training and employment opportunities.

As I mentioned in the State of the Nation Address, I will soon be visiting the leadership and management of our national departments to see how well we can work together to advance the imperatives of service delivery, training, and job creation.

As Chief Commander of the South African National Defence Force, I will be prioritising my engagement with the Department.

Since I will be in Parliament on Wednesday for the Budget Vote Speech, I have assigned the Minister of Defence and General Solly Choke to lead the celebrations of the Armed Forces Day.

I wish you well and thank you once more for protecting our country and for defending its sovereignty.

I thank you.

Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa