Jan-Jan Joubert's scary fictions, dramas and shadows

The MoD's Ndivhuwo Mabaya responds to criticism of Minister Lindiwe Sisulu

When I read Jan-Jan Joubert's article titled "Lindiwe Sisulu's four big secrets" published on your website I asked a friend if we should reply. He cautioned that I would be increasing the number of people who take Jan-Jan seriously from three to four. He added that the only people who take Jan-Jan seriously are himself, his shadow, the editor of Politicsweb and then it would be me. But for the sake of your innocent readers let me just clarify some of Jan-Jan's fiction and dramatised statements aimed at increasing the number of people who takes him seriously to four or five.

First, l must indicate that the South African National Defence Force is the last line of defence in our country. The SANDF is tasked with protecting our borders and state. It is a serious organisation dealing with the serious responsibility of protecting the nation and its people at all times. Unlike Jan-Jan we are not busy with attracting few friends with dramatised paragraphs of nothing.

On the issue of Unions, there is no room for Unions in the SANDF. More has been achieved in the SANDF since 2009 without a single union meeting than in more than 10 years of the unionised SANDF. Conditions of services are better, salaries are better, grievance mechanisms are better and today we are embarking on the biggest infrastructure maintenance programme ever seen in the SANDF.  

We have come to a conclusion that the SANDF is better off without Unions, the majority of our close to 80 000 soldiers are not unionised, only about 15%. No union sit in the bargaining chamber because they do not reach the threshold. If Jan-Jan and his shadows do not like that they must form a political party and contest elections and then take a different position than that one. 

Unlike Jan Jan and some of his friends in the Opposition - by the way they are in the opposition because they did not win elections if we are to remind anyone - we have the serious responsibility of running the SANDF. We will not be excited and just share confidential information to attract newspaper headlines. Parliament has the Portfolio Committee and Joint Standing Committee on Defence tasked with different responsibility. We will only reply to questions when they are asked in the right forum.

We will not apologise for protecting our national assets, the SANDF, those who seek to excite their shadows at the expense of the SANDF are not friends of the SANDF, but fiction story tellers whose dramas will only excite a few for a few minutes. We cannot be part of that circus.

We should also not be blamed when some opposition members choose to ask things that are in annual reports, quarterly reports and other documents. In the name of free education we will refer them to those documents, and where necessary provide them with a new copy in a language they understand best.

All operational issues of the SANDF must be referred to the Joint Standing Committee of Parliament to protect important defence issues of the SANDF, unlike those who want to excite their shadows we will insist at all times, even when they pretend that they do not know in order to attract media.

We will protect the SANDF from those whose only interest is to appear on Televisions and newspapers lambasting the good work our soldiers are doing across the continent, the borders of South Africa, Protecting our Rhinos, fighting piracy, building bridges, and working with other law enforcement agencies to protect our people.

The Ministry will continue to call on Parliament to activate the Joint Standing Committee on Defence in order for us to account properly and in detail in an appropriate forum. Unlike Jan-Jan and his friends we are not interested in newspaper headlines but in proper accountability through Parliament to the masses of our people.  Many South Africans whose interest in the SANDF is not to make newspaper headlines will support the Minister in the activation of a proper forum where this pride of the nation can report and account in detail but also protect the security and the FORCE that protects our people.

Ndivhuwo Mabaya is Head of Media Services at the Ministry of Defence

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