Namibia: Geingob Wants Inclusive and Accountable Defence

3 December 2020

President Hage Geingob yesterday implored chief of the Namibian Defence Force, Air Marshal Martin Pinehas to ensure the NDF was inclusive and that resources allocated to it are efficiently managed and accounted for at all times.

"You must perfect efficiency and effectiveness by learning how to do more with less. I believe that you all share that understanding and moving forward, I want to see all of you pulling in one direction, exuding utmost patriotism, displaying peerless discipline and working tirelessly to defend our hard-earned unity, liberty and justice," said Geingob who was speaking during the occasion of the change of command parade and inauguration of the sixth chief of the NDF in Windhoek yesterday.

Pinehas was appointed defence chief in the place of John Mutwa earlier this year. Geingob said Pinehas' appointment came at a time when the defence force requires transformation and restructuring in line with the principle of inclusivity.

"Therefore, by the virtue of powers vested in me by the Namibian Constitution as President of the Republic of Namibia and Commander-in-Chief of the Namibian Defence Force, I hereby charge you with the constitutional responsibility to make provisions for a balanced structuring of the Defence Force and to make suitable appointments of members under your command within the prescribed laws, policies and procedures," Geingob said.

For years, several long-serving members of the NDF have expressed great unhappiness over the promotions, saying their commanders have once again unfairly overlooked them.

Their biggest complaint is, however, about alleged favouritism, nepotism and tribalism in the NDF, which they say has become an "unending syndrome" within the force.

The top echelons of the NDF have continuously dismissed such allegations.

A transformed NDF

Meanwhile, Pinehas yesterday assured the nation that he will continuously transform the defence force into a modernised, fully professionalised world-class force by enhancing discipline as one of his strategic interventions.

"In enforcing discipline in the NDF, we will ensure that commanders at all levels undergo a basic military law course to assist the current pool of legal teams whose numbers are grossly inadequate and underserves the task of attending to summary trials and court martials in the entire NDF, given the geographic vastness of our country," said Pinehas.

He further explained that he will enforce transformation through effective recruitment by developing a force talent strategy that will carefully manage the transformation by allowing the younger generation to gradually take over top management and high ranking military roles "while we continue to recruit the best of the best".

"We have fine young and middle-aged officers who have excelled and proven themselves capable in military operations, planning and administration. They will be mentored and prepared to take over the baton and move the defence force towards destination world-class. What is important is for these young officers in command positions to be good followers," he explained.

The NDF chief added he will equally support the creation of a strong defence industry to ensure that the NDF remains well equipped, trained and ready to provide credible combat military responses.

"I have already commissioned a force capability and threat assessment, which revealed that our defence force is inadequately equipped. We want to have a force that is strategically predictable but operationally agile," said Pinehas.

He further added that there will be training opportunities, both local and external, offered to men and women in uniform to fill the skills gaps that are created by the evolution of technology.

"This will include, capacitating our domestic training centres of excellence with the requisite human, material and financial resources to limit the dependence on foreign training offers, cooperating and forming partnerships with institutions of higher learning and sending our personnel to the best institutions of learning in the world so that we can recruit and retain experts in national security, engineering and science-related fields," he said.

He said he will make the force "a friend of the citizen and apolitical" so that its presence in support of anti-crime law enforcement agencies continues unhindered.

The NDF chief also warned soldiers who participate in politics, saying they are undermining their loyalty to serve the nation.

"I will not tolerate a uniformed member indulging in politics as this undermines your loyalty to the service of our country which we both pronounced through the oath of allegiance when we joined the defence force, which means 'Our Constitution and Country First, then Us' the adherence to these orders cannot be overemphasised," he emphasised.

ljason@nepc.com.na

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