Freshly recruited NDF soldiers are not fit enough

Martin Endjala

The Minister of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs, Frans Kapofi, has expressed concerns about young people’s health which seems to be deteriorating as it has come to his attention that some of the 1 300 new recruits of the October 2022 intake have quit training due to unfitness and related health conditions.

Kapofi said that the number of original recruits was reduced because some of them have voluntarily dropped out of training.

The minister described the behaviour as very alarming given the fact that the young recruits were laying the foundation for others to follow suit and some of them were going to be future generals.

The Minister made these remarks during his motivation of the defence budget in parliament where he called on all young people to start to seriously look after their health.

“This disqualification of the young recruits, due to physical unfitness, pregnancies, health problems and other related issues are a serious concern, and I want to encourage young people to take care of their health,” Kapofi said.

Last year, during training, an unfortunate death occurred among the recruits.

The Minister stated that he does not want to see it happening again, especially when seen against the background of the ministry preparing for another recruitment cycle where 1 500 potential soldiers will be able to take up their posts.

He further implored the Regional and Traditional Authorities, to work together with parents, to encourage young people to take care of their health.

During the state of the nation address, President Hage Geingob highlighted that in an effort to fight unemployment in the country, the Ministry of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs will be creating 1 500 additional jobs for 2023, while the Namibian Police will create an additional 100 jobs. At the same time, he said that Namibia Correctional Services will take in 300 recruits.

The process has already commenced in January this year.

Kapofi reaffirmed that the selection and recruitment process of the Namibian Defence Force in all regions is transparent despite concerns from the public that only a certain ethnic group seems to be successful in becoming soldiers.

Kapofi said that the NDF will continue to protect the country and its mineral resources while adding that the budget allocation of N$6.2 billion creates flexibility for it to reimagine the force’s capabilities despite the economic downturn.

“It is for this reason that the ministry undertook to develop a structure that is responsive to future challenges, recruit fresh legs, improve infrastructure and acquire new technologies. To enhance surveillance capabilities for land, air and sea; quick reaction capabilities for land, air and sea; law enforcement at sea; capacitating the Defence Industry to enhance self-reliance; improving the capacity of the Defence Health Services; enhancing the capacity to provide assistance to civil powers and civil authorities; and enhancing the capacity to participate in Regional Defence and Security initiatives,” he said.

While admitting that the defence ministry’s 2022/23 budget was overrun by unforeseen developments such as floods and the Covid-19 pandemic, among others, resulting in training being curtailed.

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