The move, announced on Tuesday night by the Defence Minister, Joe Modise, reflects once more the determination of Nelson Mandela's government of national unity to find a compromise between the demands of the newly enfranchised and the fears of the white minority.
For, while the new appointments are significant, real power in the SANDF still lies in the hands of the old military order. General Georg Meiring remains overall chief of the SANDF and the chiefs of the force's three constituent parts - the army, navy and air force - remain white.
Siphiwe Nyanda, former chief of staff of the ANC guerrillas (known as Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), or Spear of the Nation), was named acting chief-of-staff of the SANDF. He assumes his position immediately but, in deference to General Meiring's fears that the new force might lack the professionalism of the old, Lieutenant- General Nyanda will go on a three-year course the better to equip him for his task.
General Nyanda, like the other six new black generals, received the bulk of his military training in the old Soviet Union. All but one of the seven new generals' positions are in the areas either of personnel or logistics. The deputy chief-of-staff of Military Intelligence is a long- serving Umkhonto officer, hitherto unknown to the public, named Major-General P Tshikare.
Mr Modise acknowledged that the new officers had some way to go before they would match their white counterparts: 'We are going to empower our people to . . . acquit themselves in a manner in which we would like them to acquit themselves.'
Mr Modise said the SANDF, expected to admit 30,000 former MK members and other black recruits, would undergo three years' 'integration and restructuring'. A contingent of British officers began assisting with integration this month.Reuse content