By Patience Nyangove
RETIRED Lieutenant-General, Martin Shalli, says the Ministry of Defence needs N$60 billion from treasury, as its current national budget allocation of N$5.6 billion is a drop in the ocean.
If Shalli’s sentiments are implemented, this will translate into almost the entire 2017/18 national budget going to the ministry, leaving the rest of the government ministries, agencies and offices scrambling for the remaining N$2.5 billion.
The Defence Ministry received N$300 million less during 2017/18 financial year, compared to its 2016/17 allocation.
Shalli said during an interview with Confidente last week that if Namibians believe that the country does not need a big military; then the Land of the Brave is doomed.
“We as a nation, maybe we need to educate ourselves more. I believe the Ministry of Defence must do more to actually educate the public about how they spend the money, and where they spend the money, but in the military when we join we take an oath of allegiance to the State and the nation, and therefore there are things we can say in public and things we cannot say, but still I believe there is a way to explain simple things, for people to get to understand why such an amount of money is needed,” Shalli said.
“In fact, this budget is not enough; this is probably just a fraction of what is normally required. I would say that we would have needed N$60 billion, which we can spend on maintaining the military.
“Do research; look at what other countries do. People ask: What does the Namibian military do? What do other countries’ militaries do in the world? Show me one single country that does not have armed forces; it’s a tradition.
“Even traditionally, when we were brought up in the village, as young boys, we were told that you must have an arrow and a bow. What is it for? I had one but I never used it, but if it had been necessary, I would have used it,” Shalli said.
“If you don’t have a bow and arrow and a sword, you are not man enough; that’s why we need it(the military), and for us to be respected and recognised by other nations, and other nations need to know that you cannot just mess with us like you want.”
Shalli added that it is very expensive to run a military, as it requires expensive aeroplanes, ships, helicopters and well-trained and experienced manpower.
“The Namibian Defence Force was established by an act of parliament, as an institution of the Republic of Namibia, and therefore it was established with a clear purpose, which is to defend the territorial integrity of the country, and to defend the people of this country, and all that belongs to them, including our national interest, both at home and abroad.
“To do that, we need resources. At independence we inherited nothing from the South Africans that you can talk about, so we have had to be build from scratch, whether its military bases, whether its weapons and weaponry, and other systems the military uses.
“We have managed to build a formidable army, with experience, which fought in the Democratic Republic of Congo for four years, and participated in a number of United Nations peacekeeping operations all over the world.”
Shalli added that they was a lot of general ignorance over how the military operates, with the general public mostly assuming that the military splashes money on unnecessary machinery and human resources.
He said the country’s air force planes are bought in foreign currency, but are absolutely necessary.
“Planes are not bought to be parked; they are bought to be flown. They must fly and every time they fly it costs money, and the people who fly them must be experts, they must be professionals, they must be well-trained, they must be warrior pilots; they must know what to do…
“I will give you another example, in the navy we have warships, other vessels and staff. The moment you buy a vessel, its lifespan is 30 years. From day one, the engine must run for the next 30 years, until decommissioning… because it’s running, it’s using fuel, that’s one thing people don’t know. They think you buy a vessel and you just park it, you buy a plane you just park; even vehicles, you cannot just park it, you buy it for a purpose,” Shalli said.
“Then we have troops that must be fed, trained, clothed and accommodated and all that costs money; and yes, you know we are competing with other national priorities. We are aware of that, but as a nation, we must engage ourselves, and people employed to serve are hired by the State, by the government, to perform such duties. The NDF does not belong to them, it belongs to the Namibian people, through the State; and I must tell you this, as a nation, if we start thinking that there is no need for a military in our country, then we are doomed,” he added.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015