The Challenges of Transformation: SANDF Officers' Attitudes Towards Integration, Affirmative Action, Women in Combat and Language Usage

Lindy Heineken


Most countries expect their armed forces to be broadly representative of the populace with respect to race, ethnic composition, social class, religion and gender. The concern, particularly with respect to the officer corps as leaders of the armed forces, is that an unrepresentative defence force may pose a threat to the principle of civil supremacy over the military. The fact that some states are directly governed by military regimes drawn from the officer corps, while others actively strive to ensure that the armed forces remain subordinate to political control, indicates that the question of who joins the officer corps is of central importance to society. Where the armed forces do not represent the demographic composition of the populace, the minorities, or even majorities invariably regard such imbalances as inimical to their political power and safety (Baynam, 1990:9-10).

In South Africa, many years of enforced discriminatory policies has resulted in a lack of racial and gender representivity within the ranks of the former South African Defence Force (SADF). Although the racial composition of the SADF had begun to change rapidly by the late eighties, the officer corps is still mainly white. Even with the integration of the predominantly black homeland and non-statutory forces into the new South African National Defence Force (SANDF) which came into being in April 1994, the majority of leadership positions do not reflect the demographic composition of society.


The Challenges of Transformation; SANDF Officers' Attitudes; Affirmative Action; Women in Combat; Language Usage; South African Defence Force (SADF); South African National Defence Force (SANDF); demographics; race; ethnic composition; social class

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Copyright (c) 2018 Lindy Heineken

ISSN 2224-0020 (online); ISSN 1022-8136 (print)

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