THE Ministry of Defence plans to discharge 132 members of the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) from military service due to ill health and other disabilities.
The head of medical services within the ministry, General Sophia Ndeitunga, yesterday confirmed that the ministry routinely evaluates the health of members yearly and people who are found to be unable to continue with their work are discharged.
According to the Public Service Commission report of 2011/2012, five people were discharged from the NDF during this period. The same report states that the ministry currently employs 18 119 NDF military members. In an appeal to Cabinet earlier this month, Defence Minister Charles Namoloh said that his ministry, in particular the NDF, had enlisted a considerable number of ex-combatants and children of the liberation struggle under Cabinet directives.
“The number of members recommended for discharge from the service is high and the Cabinet is being informed to understand the challenges and implications of employment of people who do not meet requirements and are not medically fit
for military service,” Namoloh said in his appeal.
Namoloh said his ministry had relaxed some of the recruitment requirements, including comprehensive medical checkups.
“During training, some members could not perform optimally and were continuously at sick bays or hospitals. These members after completion of training were deployed and occupied less strenuous positions, however their health condition could not improve,” Namoloh wrote.
General regulations of the Public Service Act 13 of 1995 and the Defence Act 1 of 2002 make provision for discharging members from service due to ill health.
A Military Medical Board which assessed the health of the 132 members was constituted in July this year.
According to Namoloh, the board recommended that 88 members were unfit for military service due to various illnesses while 44 members were disqualified for further military service due to various disabilities.
The types of illness include blindness, deafness, heart failure, mental illness, cancer and paralysis due to stroke.
Labour expert Herbert Jauch said although NDF members did not fall under the Labour Act, being discharged for medical reasons happens, but provision should be made that such employees get a disability grant and other benefits.
Namoloh has stated that the Government Institutions Pension Fund, based on the principle of discharge from service due to ill health and disability, will pay the members.
In his statement on the budget estimates for the 2012/2013 in April this year, Namoloh said his ministry believed that “only able-bodied personnel can help it fulfil its roles and functions. Therefore, we continue to take seriously the health care of our personnel.”