â€˜Top Threeâ€™ absent at Mutwaâ€™s NDF inauguration
The Minister of Defence, Nahas Angula, has explained why President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Prime Minister Hage Geingob and Founding President Sam Nujoma were absent from the installation of the new Chief of the Namibian Defence Force (NDF), Major-General John Mutwa, on Tuesday. The absence of the president, his predecessor and the country’s prime minister at the event raised eyebrows – with many asking whether this was a deliberate snubbing of the country’s new NDF chief. Angula was the most senior government official in attendance. He explained that Pohamba, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the NDF, had “other appointments” and delegated him (Angula) to officiate at the change-of-command parade held at Grootfontein. Mutwa took over as head of the Army, Navy and Air Force from Lieutenant-General Epaphras Denga Ndaitwah, who retired last year. On Geingob’s absence, Angula said: “I invited him but I did not receive any answer from him. “Maybe he had made other plans due to the fact that it is the festive season and that it was the last day of the year.” Geingob is understood to have been out of the country – leading a Namibian delegation to the United Arab Emirates and the USA. Angula said Nujoma was expected to attend the ceremony but pulled out because the event clashed with his annual holiday. “He apologised for not being there as he had to go to Henties Bay because it was part of his annual leave,” Angula said. Mutwa was the Commander of the Army and emerged as the strongest candidate against his fellow commanders, Martin Pinehas of the Air Force and Peter Vilho of the Navy. He was promoted from the rank of Brigadier-General to Major-General and was appointed as the Army Commander in April 2011. Angula also explained the surprise presence of Ndaitwah’s predecessor, Martin Shalli, at the event in full military regalia despite having been dismissed by Pohamba in 2011. “He was not dismissed dishonourably and he still wears his military [uniform] and he was invited by the outgoing Chief of Defence,” Angula said. On whether Shalli’s presence on the stage did not contradict the decision by the Head of State to fire him, Angula said: “He was a former Commander and Chief of NDF and this event only happens once in a blue moon. “He still has friends in the NDF and he is not the only one invited by the outgoing Chief. To me his presence did not mean anything special.” Shalli was retired about 18 months after President Pohamba had suspended him on allegations of “serious irregularities”. There were allegations that Shalli, while he was the ambassador to Zambia, had millions of dollars transferred to him through a third party by a Chinese company from which the NDF had bought equipment.