Chief of the SANDF, General S. Shoke

General Solly Zacharia Shoke was born in Alexandra Township, in Johannesburg on 15 August 1956. General Shoke left the country in1976 after the uprisings and joined the military wing of the African National Congress - Umkhonto we Sizwe. He received his basic military training in Angola and further training in the then Soviet Union.

After he received his basic military training in Angola and serving in various capacities in the African National Congress’ military wing, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) both inside and outside the country he rose through ranks to become the commander of the then Transvaal Machinery.

He was later selected to become part of the underground Collective Leadership (Operation Vula). He operated internally until the unbanning of the liberation movements. After the unbanning of the African National Congress he became part of the National Organising Department of the ANC whose mission was to organise the ANC Structures in the country. General Shoke was also part of the committees that facilitated the peaceful transition to democracy in South African including the armed forces.

In preparation for the integration of the armed forces he went to Zimbabwe to do an Intermediate Staff Course. After the ushering in of the new democratic era Lt Gen Shoke did his Senior Command and Staff Duties Course in South Africa. He later did the Joint Staff Course; the highest military qualification in South Africa. He also holds a Diploma in Human Resources Management and a certificate in defence management.

General Shoke served the defence as Director Manpower Planning, later Director Army Integration, Director Personnel Acquisition which later saw him promoted to a rank of Major General as Chief of Human Resource Support in the year 2000 and the position that he diligently excelled in until 2004 when he was promoted to the rank Lt Gen as Chief of the Army.

Some of the highlights as Chief of the Army General Shoke, introduced Vision 2020, which was a long term vision and planning process for the SA Army. Under his leadership the SA Army established the Works Regiment in the SANDF, which is now a programme for the maintenance and refurbishment of the National Defence Force infrastructure. The Army also resuscitated some of the capabilities like the Airborne Capability, Desert and Jungle warfare, Special Infantry which is a capability that deals with Border Safeguarding.

Notwithstanding the challenges that the army has in under funding, under the leadership of General Shoke the Army managed to fulfill its missions and international obligations.

General Shoke is known a disciplinarian, committed to a very disciplined defence force and lives by military discipline. He has committed himself to exemplary leadership and is an example of living the values of the SANDF. His actions are a testimony of integrity, loyalty and patriotism in an unbiased and non-political manner. General Shoke has served the National Defence Force with distinction in various capacities since the birth of the new South African National Defence Force. Until recently he has been the Chief of the South African Army.

Secretary for Defence and Military Veterans