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Article by Cpl Tebogo Kekana, Ad astra magazine, photos by WO2 David Nomtshongwana

Maj Gen Mbulelo Octavia Mcetywa assumed command of Air Command as Chief Air Staff Operations, (GOC Air Comd) on 01 January 2017.

He took the Oath of Office before signing the swearing-in certificate at a Change of Command Parade held at Air Force Base Swartkop, in Valhalla on 01 February 2017.

Maj Gen Mcetywa took over from the reigns from Maj Gen Wiseman Mbambo who served in the post since 2013.

The ceremony started with inter-faith prayers, where Rev (Doc) T.J. Skhosana preached on the importance of ethical leadership and quoted the book of Ezekiel.

Maj Gen Wiseman Mbambo addressing the parade

It speaks about walking into the footsteps of the former leader and the transfer of power from one to another. He spoke at length about lessons from power and said, “Power has the ability to expose our hidden character, power does not corrupt-but it exposes corruptness with us. Power is slippery, it has no permanent residence, its fluid, it moves.  South Africa is hungry for ethical leaders; we could do with more seniors who lead with among others: discipline, integrity, professionalism, courage and an attitude to serve.”

He quoted Robert Greene (1998:130) Law 18 (in the book Laws of Power) and said, “do not build fortresses to protect yourself, isolation is dangerous. It is better to circulate among people and mingle, the crowd will protect you.”

Maj Gen Wiseman Mbambo handing over symbol of command to Maj Gen Mbulelo Octavia Mcetywa

The event sparked a standing ovation when the parade took centre stage with the display that was later laced with photographers wanting that perfect picture when a fly-past was executed.

 The CV of the former GOC AC was read before he addressed the parade wherein he acknowledged handing over command to his successor. General Mbambo said, “The SANDF is not operating in isolation, thus, it is imperative that we observe and proactively take appropriate measure to give advice where required as professional military experts. Several realities will impact on us as we discharge our mandate and this change of command parade happens at the time when continuous alertness and readiness to render assistance within a multilateral arrangement, We are ready.”

He said that the members on parade displayed the true SAAF spirit of excellence and professionalism. While he enjoyed the fly past and the static display, he didn’t mince his words saying, “Given the enormity of our mandate, we concur with the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans (MOD&MV), Honourable Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula’s   assertion that the SANDF must be adequately resourced to execute its Constitutional mandate. This is the environment underwhich this change of command parade occurs.

He thanked his family for sharing with him the organization as well as the SANDF leadership for entrusting him with the responsibility to be in command of Air Operations in the SAAF since 2013. He specifically thanked Lt Gen Msimang CAF for always reminding him that theirs is to serve. “I will always hold dear the boardroom moments we had during meetings where we exchanged ideas, at times robust debates on how best to steer and mold the SAAF to higher levels,” beamed the Gen. He thanked his office staff for their unwavering support, Base Commanders and all the members of the SAAF and said, “Congratulations to Maj Gen Mcetywa. I have no doubt that your leadership qualities will benefit the Operations environment and the SAAF. As for me, the future beckons, and I depend on your unwavering support.”

Maj Gen Mbulelo Octavia Mcetywa

Maj Gen Mbambo joined the ANC’s military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1984 and specialised in Military Engineering. During 1985, he went to Yugoslavia for a military intelligence and diversionary course and later was appointed as a staff Commander at Vienna transit camp in Luanda. He was later transferred to Kibaxe Training Centre (Northern Angola) as a military engineering instructor for new recruits. 

Major Gen Mbambo successfully completed his Junior Command and Staff Course in 2001 and National Security Programme in the USA from June 2003-June 2004. He was awarded, among others, the Unitas medal (Bronze), Non Statutory Forces Operations Medal, 20 Years Good Service Medal and the best overall progress award for a student on the Senior Command and Staff Course 1/2001. His life motto is: “With God, nothing is impossible.”


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