Expensive toy, cattle for retiring defence chief

02 December 2013 | Government

The Chief of the Namibian Defence Force (NDF), Lieutenant-General Epaphras Denga Ndaitwah, is to receive a luxury vehicle and an unknown number of cattle from government when he retires at the end of this month. The vehicle, an Audi A4 valued at N$600 000, and the livestock are a token of appreciation for Ndaitwah’s service, sources within the NDF said. The token has been extended to Ndaitwah by the commander-in-chief, President Hifikepunye Pohamba, with the defence ministry to oversee its execution. Ndaitwah is the country’s fourth defence force chief. He replaced Martin Shalli in 2011 after the latter was relieved of his duties after corruption allegations were levelled against him. Ndaitwah’s predecessors in the same position, Jerobeam Dimo Hamaambo, Salomon Jesus Hawala and Shalli, were all sent off with similar gifts – off-road vehicles, a State-financed driver and security personnel. The cattle donated to Ndaitwah are from farms owned by the NDF, sources within the army said. “The Lieutenant-General has already started moving the cattle from different NDF farms to Okongo,” an official said. Gifts for all Defence Minister Nahas Angula said Ndaitwah is an appointee of the commander-in-chief [Pohamba], and any decision to give him a gift is not made by his office. “The previous persons who served in that capacity also received cars and drivers,” Angula said. “It’s not something that is being done for the current chief of defence only. It’s an old practice that has a security element to it.” Angula said he is not exactly sure of the gifts Ndaitwah is to receive when he vacates his post in three weeks’ time. “If the commander-in-chief has something up his sleeve in terms of a gift for the defence chief, I wouldn’t know much about it until December 31 when the retirement comes into effect.” “This is not a matter that the minister decides. It’s done between Cabinet and the commander-in-chief.” Cabinet Secretary Frans Kapofi confirmed that all previous chiefs of defence were rewarded in the same way, but was reluctant to comment on the rumoured gifts for Ndaitwah. However, an impeccable government source said the precedence of extending gifts to retiring chiefs of defence started when Hamaambo retired from that position in 2000, with former President Sam Nujoma as commander-in-chief at the time. “The consideration at the time was that Dimo spent most of his life in exile and lost out on a lot of opportunities as such. “As a decorated soldier who also served as the army commander of PLAN forces, it was felt at the time that sending him away without assisting him could result in financial problems, which was going to be a shame for a man of his stature,” the source said. It was against this background that the government extended the same courtesy to Hawala when he retired in 2006. He was replaced by Shalli, who at the time was Namibia’s high commissioner to Zambia. “Shalli endured a forced exit from the defence force, but even he got the same treatment as his predecessors. It was going to be unfair not to do the same for him. “Even for Denga, it was going to be unfair not to give him what others got,” the source continued. “This is a consideration by the commander-in-chief. It’s not an entitlement.” Neither Ndaitwah nor Defence Permanent Secretary Petrus Shivute could be reached for comment.

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