by Major General (Ret) Bantu Holomisa, MP, Deputy Chairperson National Defence Force Service Commission
We mourn the loss of the late Lieutenant General (Ret) Lambert Moloi; a former commander of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) – an outstanding man and a disciplined soldier.
As an MK Commander, General Moloi worked closely with then Transkei Defence Force (TDF) officers and as a result he was assigned “Comrade A” as his code and nickname.
We worked with General Moloi for many years; first when he was an MK Commander during the struggle. He and I again crossed paths in September 2009 when the South African Ministry of Defence established the interim National Defence Force Service Commission (NDFSC). Our work in the interim NDFSC was to, amongst others, advise on the remuneration and service conditions of the members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
When the Commission started its work, General Moloi campaigned hard for the improvement of the conditions of service of the SANDF personnel. His military background, together with the crucial role he played in overseeing the integration of the different armed forces in 1994 enabled him to anticipate and understand the needs of the SANDF members.
General Moloi’s institutional memory contributed immensely towards the realisation of the Commission’s objectives. This quality came in very handy when the Commission conducted benchmarking studies in various countries around the world.
He was a man who paid attention to detail and could at times be extremely pedantic and he interrogated all the recommendations of the Commission.
No tribute to General Moloi is complete without acknowledging his monumental contribution to the struggle for liberation. We successfully handled many operations with him long before former President FW de Klerk unbanned the liberation movements. Comrade A therefore was a frequent visitor to our shores and he demonstrated a great deal of humility and empathy – he would take the time to engage TDF officers about every issue under the sun. He organised and oversaw many training projects, including the training of MK cadres, by the TDF, in Transkei and Uganda with a specific focus on conventional warfare. TDF General Mandela managed this project and it was a great success.
During our joint operations he proved to be a very disciplined and focused individual who prized the liberation of our people above all else.
These events and programmes culminated in a strong relationship and mutual trust between the ANC, its military and the Transkei Military Government. It was against this backdrop that the Transkei Military Government embraced change long before 1994 and agreed to be integrated into the new South Africa without resistance, unlike other homelands.
The other rarely mentioned benefit of this relationship was that, by the time the senior MK commanders came back from exile, Comrade A’s relationship with TDF had laid a solid foundation for the relatively smooth integration of these two armed forces into a single national defence force.
I express my heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Lieutenant General (Ret) Moloi. It is never easy to get used to the passing of a loved one especially that of a person of his calibre. He will be sorely missed.
May His Soul Rest in Peace.