Windhoek — President Hage Geingob has expressed his dismay at the Ministry of Defence spending about N$45 million to acquire the luxury farm Oropoko, which will be used to train elite soldiers to live in harmony with nature and to practice their shooting skills.
The farm is situated some 60 kilometres north-west of Okahandja.
"I hope it is not true. Today [Thursday] I read the Ministry of Defence bought a farm for 45 million dollars, while they are sending troops home. I do not know if it was done last year. Minister, we need to talk, because I do not see the urgency, while we are sending people back (home)," Geingob reacted yesterday during the first Cabinet meeting for 2018.
It has been reported that Major Petrus Shilumbu of the Public Relations Division in the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the farm was bought. He said the initial asking price was N$69 million.
Shilumbu said the farm was acquired last year September after the asking price of N$69 million was negotiated down to N$45 million.
The ministry maintains the farm is strategically located as it is near the capital.
Speaking to New Era earlier, Shilumbu assured the nation that it is safe despite mandatory leave involving thousands of army personnel.
A month ago, the NDF instructed thousands of soldiers staying at the seven military bases around Namibia to take forced leave with effect from this month.
Those who were on leave when the directive was issued were asked not to report for duty since the army could no longer afford to feed them and pay for water and electricity bills.
But Shilumbu said the security situation in the country remains secure, adding that the remaining 70 percent of soldiers at the military bases are capable of handling any eventuality.
He said due to the financial crisis in the country the chief of the NDF, Lieutenant-General John Mutwa, issued a directive that at least 30 percent of army personnel be sent home every month on a rotation basis to cut rising costs incurred by feeding the troops.
"Those 30 percent that are on leave are not on leave in a foreign country and they can be called back if any situation arises," said Shilumbu.
"Feeding, clothing soldiers is not an easy task for any country especially a country in our current situation - this is not new here, rest assured that we are all safe, despite all this," he said.
He said that sending soldiers home has been happening since 1990.
"The rule is that only 30 percent should be allowed to leave the base," Shilumbu explained.
He said the mandatory leave would not affect personal normal leave days so it should be regarded as a bonus.
The farm has a helipad and an airfield, which the army intends to transform into a military airport.
The farm also has an Olympic standard shooting range that will be used as a training area.