By Lt General (Rtd) Denga Ndaitwah
CREDIBLE and secure defences are built anchored on the Defence Forces’ constitutional missions, assumptions and perceived threat. The same applies to the creation of fire brigades. Fire brigades are not created when there are houses on fire. They are created on assumptions that there might be a house on fire one day. Nations that relent and become complacent by hoping that there shall be no emerging national security threats shall do that at own peril and possibly demise. In this regard, Namibia must not fall prey of its own ignorance because of those who do not understand security and defence issues. Making ourselves suffer from security and defence ignorance might cause this nation to suffer from the unrecoverable security damage.
We must also understand that defence and security are not new phenomenon; they are as old as communities themselves. There was a time when communities lived in an environment where threats were pervading across their homesteads and territories. Those threats gave birth to the concept of defence and security apparatus. Defence and security started at small scales based on how big a given community was.
Defence also depended on how many men were available as defence was exclusively provided by men. Conversely, ancient community defence was faced with leadership and equipment challenges considering the level of leadership and equipment that were available at that time. As security and defence have been with communities since time immemorial, how come that the Namibian nation is still failing to appreciate defence and security issues in the 21st century. Time is now to educate ourselves on defence and security issues.
When communities evolved into states, defence postures changed gradually in order to be inconformity with defence of states. The emerging of states therefore, brought about structural, organisational, leadership, training and equipment challenges. That is so because states are bigger than communities and so proper structures, organisations, effective leadership, training and appropriate equipment became a necessity. The NDF was established based on contemporary defence systems and new challenges.
Although the NDF anchored its defence posture on contemporary concepts like other Defence Forces, its establishment has a unique history. It is a force that was made up of the yesterday’s warring enemies who fought bloody battles. There are important historic moments to reflect on that were undertaken by the yesterday’s warring enemies at independence. First, the colonial flag was removed forever from being hoisted in the Land of the Brave midnight of 21 March 1990 by yesteryear adversaries.
Second, the Namibian flag was finally hoisted forever by the former opposing soldiers the same midnight. Third, the colourful and spiced parade on the same midnight of independence was mounted by the same erstwhile warring ex-combatants. All the above are classic examples to emulate, mirror on and reflect on a successful history of the NDF and indeed of the newly born Republic of Namibia.
Today, the NDF stands as an indispensable element of national power at the disposal of the state that was established by virtue of the Constitution. In this context, the nation must stand proud for having the NDF as a state instrument and public good for the defence of the Land of the Brave. I am proud for having served at the apex of the NDF structure that stands ready to execute any given mission within its Constitutional mandate. That is a supreme sacrifice the sons and daughters of the soil have vowed to make for this nation while in uniform.
Based on its uniqueness again, the last battle by the former adversaries was fought on April 1, 1989, yet their integration into a single command was made before the adoption of the Constitution on the 9 February 1990. Why was there a pressure to hastily integrate those ex-combatants into a single command even before the Constitution was adopted? That was necessitated by the need to have skeleton defence elements that must stand ready to perform ceremonial rituals at independence, defend the infant nation and thwart the would-be aggressor at independence and soon after.
The integration of the erstwhile enemies was done based on the Policy of National Reconciliation. Past combat experience also played a pivotal role as those ex-combatants were all battle tested. The combat experience counts immensely as producing a soldier would need an amount of time, experience and resources. In this case, preparing a force from scratch for independence was going to be untenable task given the limited time at hand. It takes time before one is qualified to be called a professional soldier. Preparing soldiers haphazardly shall mean, lack of experience which will culminate into a mob of people dressed alike who will be called soldiers of which the soldiering effect will be at zero level.
What was the secret and magic of integrating yesterday’s enemies into a single command with lethal weapons into their hands without any frictions? The secret and magic was the Policy of National Reconciliation that was advocated for by the political leadership. It is crystal clear that the NDF is an instrument of a state that abided to the political stance. The NDF is an apolitical force. Meaning, members of the NDF shall not and must not be partisans.
The NDF belongs to the state for the defence of the motherland and not to any single political party. The only time when any member of the NDF will belong to a political party, is for a few seconds when in the booth casting a vote. It is clear in the Constitution that the mission of the NDF is to defend the territory and national interests of Namibia. The NDF is therefore, to abide to that Constitutional order.
Generally, where members of the Defence Forces are highly politicised and get meddling into politics, will no doubt, cause political damage to democratic values.
… concludes next week
Lieutenant General (rtd) Denga Ndaitwah is a former Chief of the Defence Force, part time Lecturer at UNAM, Head of Department and Senior Lecturer at IUM, holder of MA in Strategic Studies.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015