‘Politics’ trigger VIP escort changes

06 April 2021 | Police

OGONE TLHAGE



WINDHOEK

Namibian police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga says the decision to stop the use of municipal traffic police services during VIP escorts has nothing to do with the fact that most of the municipalities are controlled by opposition parties, but rather to cut costs.

This is despite talks that government does not pay when using municipal traffic services.

A week ago, Ndeitunga issued a directive to Windhoek, Keetmanshoop, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Henties Bay, Otjiwarongo and Katima Mulilo municipalities informing them that all VIP escort duties and manning of roads - which used to be solicited from local municipal police services – has been discontinued as of 1 April.

Apart from Otjiwarongo and Katima Mulilo which are controlled by Swapo, all the municipalities listed by Ndeitunga are in opposition hands.

In a telephonic interview yesterday, Ndeitunga said using the services of municipal traffic was costly to government.

“We are not saying we don’t need them, but not every time. Whenever we need them, we will use them,” he said.

Several municipalities, however, called on Ndeitunga to be honest and tell the public the real reasons why the services have been discontinued.

Security threat?

“The inspector general must be honest and tell the public that this decision was taken because of the political dynamics at play. Maybe they feel there is a security threat. What cost is he talking about if they do not pay anything?” a municipal official, who refused to be named, questioned.

Another official from the City of Windhoek said the municipality has over the years requested for a government subsidy but nothing has been forthcoming.

Ndeitunga refused to weigh in on whether the decision was politically motivated, saying political matters should not be mixed with police operations.

“Please go and ask the politicians that,” he said.

The time has now come for the police to showcase its capability of providing escorts and manning the streets and roads across the country, Ndeitunga said.

Frugality

“Good riddance,” Windhoek mayor Job Amupanda said of the move.

“He cannot say it is costly if they do not even pay for the services. Anyways, we will continue building a professional force that is properly equipped and not in the hands of politicians.”

Presidential spokesperson Dr Alfredo Hengari refused to be drawn into allegations that the move is politically motivated.

“President Hage Geingob has a highly reduced motorcade, which stops at traffic lights and travels at a speed consistent with rules around the City and the country. Exceptions are made for a different type of escort for key ceremonial events,” he said.

Hengari said the decision communicated by the police is consistent with Geingob’s vision to achieve “frugality in public expenditures and doing more with less”.