Address by President Nelson Mandela at the Defence Day Parade, Johannesburg

27 April 1996

Minister Modise;
The Premier of Gauteng;
General Meiring;
Officers and members of the South African National Defence Force;
Distinguished guests.

It is a proud and fulfilling moment for me to address this Defence Day parade, two years into the history of our new nation and her new Defence Force, I extend my warmest welcome to the those dignitaries present as well as to the members of the force on parade.

The Defence Force is playing a vital role in the reconstruction and development of our country. Each of the arms of the service has an essential contribution to make towards this programme's broader aims.

This includes the safety and security of our borders and the support provided to the SAPS in the maintenance of internal stability. The activities of the service corps will undoubtedly prove to be one of the SANDF's principal contributions to social transformation - it will promote nation-building, create essential skills and help to eradicate the scourge of unemployment.

Community health is an enormously important part of the government's programmes and the services rendered in this regard by the SA Medical Service have gone a long way to ease the burdens that would otherwise have been placed on the other medical infrastructure of the state.

I wish also to commend the services rendered by the armed forces during the floods in large parts of the country earlier this year. Well done!

We are immensely grateful for the sterling service rendered by our part-time members. On this day, I wish to strongly encourage South Africans of all communities and persuasions to volunteer for service in our part-time units and I appeal to the business community to give their wholehearted support.

Ladies and gentlemen;

The major transformation of the SANDF is well under way. The large and complex integration exercise is nearing completion.

The White Paper on Defence produced during this past year outlines defence policy as an integral part of National Security Policy, and will provide the framework for a comprehensive defence review which will shape the force of the future.

One of the important new thrusts of defence activity is regional co-operation. We must also be prepared, as and when conditions permit, to participate in international peace support operations.

Unavoidably, the defence budget had to be cut again to accommodate other priorities. However we do recognise the need for new capital equipment in the various arms of the service.

Today, I have handed over to General George Meiring a nine- pointed star. This is the new badge of rank to replace the castle. The change was agreed by all parties in the negotiations leading to the formation of the SANDF. The nine-pointed star represents the nine-provinces of South Africa. The new insignia will be worn by all members of the appropriate rank in the Defence Force with effect from 1 May 1996. Wear it with pride!

In conclusion, may I assure each and every member of the SANDF of my continued support, as well as that of government as a whole. Be assured also that the support each serving member receives from his or her family has not gone unnoticed. They too deserve high praise.

I wish you all the best of fortune in your endeavours. You are indeed a priceless national asset.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website