21 Feb 2018 08:40am
WINDHOEK, 21 FEB (NAMPA) - The decision to send soldiers on leave was taken to meet Government halfway in consolidating resources, Defence Minister Penda Ya Ndakolo says.
Speaking in the National Assembly on Tuesday, Ya Ndakolo rubbished assertions that the Ministry of Defence was not in a financial position to house and feed its soldiers.
What the ministry rejects and dismisses in the strongest possible terms is the fact that the issue of compulsory leave for our soldiers is being used for political and propaganda expediencies, he said.
Ya Ndakolo said the issue was being used to score political points.
Some are saying soldiers were sent on compulsory leave because there is no food at bases. That is not true. We have no problem feeding our troops, he said.
He said sending soldiers on leave was a conscious decision informed by experts and not by people on the streets, adding that the decision was taken in conjunction with other cost-cutting measures.
The minister said like any other government ministry or agency, NDF members are also entitled to various types of leave.
The chief of defence may also, with powers vested in him by the Defence Act (Act 1 of 2002) in the interest of the Defence Force at any given time order a member of the force to take leave with full or half pay.
Responding to Ya Ndakolo, Swanu of Namibia Member of Parliament Usutuaije Maamberua asked how much the ministry envisages to save during the exercise.
Ya Ndakolo did not respond to the question.
Also joining the debate, Rally for Democracy and Progress Secretary-General Mike Kavekotora wanted to know how many soldiers are on forced leave.
During the appropriation debates, you defended your budget, informing the House that national security cannot be compromised. How will you ensure national security in this case, where a big number of soldiers are on leave? Kavekotora asked.
To this, Ya Ndakolo said: Despite the economic crisis, measures have been put in place to ensure that our safety and security are not compromised.
The debate stems from reports that the mandatory leave as from this month was partly because the Defence Ministry cannot afford to feed the soldiers or foot the electricity and water bill for bases.