Charlotte Maxeke In Simon's Town
26 April 2007
Today we are realising one of the milestones in a long process of
re-equipping the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). This marks the
arrival of our second Type-209 Submarine, the SAS Charlotte Maxeke, in Simon's
Town. It has been a long and arduous journey to get here. Along the way the men
and women of the National Defence Force endured and distinguished themselves in
the true spirit of the heroine after whom the submarine is named.
The SAS Charlotte Maxeke takes her name from one of South Africa's great
heroines of the struggle for freedom, Charlotte Maxeke. Often referred to as
the "Mother of African Freedom," Charlotte Maxeke was a formidable woman, and a
leader of national standing. Inspired by a vision of creating a better life for
all, she participated in many sectors of society where oppression was at its
most rife; all without expectation of reward. She achieved political prominence
as a leader, who campaigned for equality around the Union of South Africa in
1910, then went on to lead resistance against the pernicious 1913 Land Acts,
especially providing support to the Free State women resisting the pass laws.
Her legacy serves as an inspiration to all of us as we strive to create a
better life for all, in this Age of Hope.
It is fitting therefore, that the SAS Charlotte Maxeke should bear the name
of a woman who authored so important a part of South Africa's history, for the
SAS Charlotte Maxeke will be crucial in protecting and defending Black and
White South Africans in many years of her life. That is how Charlotte Maxeke
would have liked to see the people together; that is together in peace and
secured from all dangers.
The primary role of this submarine will be to defend South Africa's
interests and territorial integrity, but her task is far greater. For the SAS
Charlotte Maxeke, and her sister submarines, the SAS Manthatisi and the SAS
Queen Modjadji, bring to the region and the African continent a significant
strategic deterrent capability. The submarines, together with the
recently-acquired MEKO Class Frigates, will considerably strengthen the ability
of the South African Navy to provide maritime defence. Furthermore, these
vessels will contribute to our regional reach and to the provision of security
in the Southern African Development Community, thereby assisting in the
consolidation of democracy within the sub-Saharan region.
This contribution is important, particularly when read within the context of
our priorities for the coming period. In this regard, our Plan of Action makes
clear the necessity for post-conflict reconstruction objectives which highlight
the necessity for longer engagements in theatres of conflict. The intent
thereof is the avoidance of a relapse into conflict. It is our opinion that the
contribution of extra-continental role players in this arena will continue to
reduce. This will leave the obligation for post-conflict reconstruction with
South Africa, the Southern African Development Community and the African
We furthermore foresee that our Government's commitments to the region, to
the continent and to our South-South co-operation will result in an increasing
number of obligations on the part of our sea, air and land forces. This will
result in a higher demand for loyal, dedicated and competent people who are
prepared to deploy for extended periods and for visionary and committed
leadership. In this context the development of technological expertise, and the
retention of scarce skills is not only important, but fundamental to the
accomplishment of our strategic objectives.
Crew of the SAS Charlotte Maxeke, like your comrades in arms in the South
African National Defence Force (SANDF), you are the cream of our crop. This is
particularly pertinent in your case. The Type-209 Submarine, is technologically
advanced, and fitted with some of the best underwater sensor and weapon systems
in the world. Such technological sophistication, is however, totally redundant
In this regard, the SANDF provides some of the finest technical training in
the country, and such training, together with the discipline and
professionalism inherent to a military organisation, make our human resources
most attractive to the private sector. It also facilitates our vigorous
participation in initiatives such as Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative
for South Africa and Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition. However,
we appeal to the men and women who serve our country, to be ever mindful of the
important contribution which they are making in the authoring of a new South
African history, a history which is underpinned by the principle of ensuring a
better life for all. This is an obligation which should not be lightly
resigned, as our success is predicated on the commitment and the expertise of
each and every one of us.
In this regard, we are most mindful of the considerable commitment and
dedication shown by the men and women who navigate our ships and submarines.
Your efforts in accepting and qualifying these vessels do not pass unnoticed.
Today we acknowledge specifically the efforts of Commander Roland Shortt and
his crew of the SAS Charlotte Maxeke. These sailors have been deployed in
Germany since September 2006 ï¿½ a considerable sacrifice which has been borne in
large part by their loved ones. Be sure that you have done the Department, and
the Country proud. We thank you.
We acknowledge too, the contribution made by the crew of SAS Drakensberg in
their role as escort to the SAS Charlotte Maxeke. This task has been of
considerable importance. Furthermore, your efforts in transporting equipment
and materiel to Mozambique in January 2006 affirmed the pivotal role the
department has in supporting the people of South Africa. This was confirmed by
the Deputy Minister of Defence, Mr Mluleki George, after he visited you in
Emden earlier this year.
Dedication and commitment such as that which has been displayed by these men
and women and their leaders, stands as an inspiration to us all. For unless we
are enthused with a sense of service to our Country and its people, underpinned
by an ethos of professionalism and discipline, the legacy which we leave will
be of little value to those who come after, and will do a great injustice to
those who came before.
In conclusion, to Vice-Admiral Mudimu and your team, we wish you and the
South African Navy the best and the people's blessings. The history authored by
stalwarts such as Charlotte Maxeke and others who sacrificed much to establish
the democracy which we as South Africans enjoy, is being affirmed here today by
the writing of a new history within the South African Navy, and within the
Department of Defence. This is a history which speaks of a better life for all,
both here and on the continent, and which marks an entry into an Age of Hope
where all might participate freely and equitably. We wish you well and we thank
Issued by: Department of Defence
26 April 2007