Islamist insurgency crisis could spill over… defence minister warns Namibia not immune to terrorism
Defence minister Peter Vilho says the escalating conflict in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, in which Islamic State-aligned insurgents are causing havoc, is a serious cause for concern.
Attacks have intensified as insurgents captured towns in the southern African country. They have also destroyed government infrastructure and declared their goal to establish a caliphate - a political-religious state under Islamic leadership.
The conflict poses a serious threat to regional stability and requires a strong and well-equipped army, according to Vilho. The defence minister, who was motivating the N$6.2 billion defence ministry budget in the National Assembly this week, said the country will not be immune to such provocations if unfolding events in Mozambique are anything to go by.
“If what is happening in the Middle East, North, West and East Africa is anything to go by, then this development is a serious cause for concern,” he said. The huge allocation to the defence ministry has come under heavy criticism from opposition politicians and ordinary citizens.
Vilho says conflict and war have mostly been the result of states pursuing their interest to the detriment and insecurity of others. This, he said, is mainly achieved through direct and unilateral acts of armed aggression; sponsorship of armed rebellion or insurrection to weaken or gain control of the state; and the fomenting of violent protests, sporadic communal violence, mass civil disorder, and uncontrolled organised crime.
Presently, Vilho said, Namibia is engaged in an economic warfare that is characterised by an assault on the country’s fauna and flora, and the plunder of the nation’s marine resources. Similarly, he said, there is also an increase in the nature and number of cross-border crimes, including the trafficking of drugs, counterfeit goods, human trafficking for migratory purposes and sex.
He said the defence force is a contingency organisation and as such lives out its proper mission in times of crises. “Being a contingency organisation, its effectiveness is measured by its state of readiness and it possessing capabilities necessary to carry out the tasks flowing from each of its strategic objectives,” Vilho said.
However, he said, when parliament resumed recently, he was shocked to hear that the defence budget shouldn’t be a priority during this time of Covid-19.
“It’s true that the virus cannot be fought with bullets. But it’s also true that there is neither a cure nor a vaccine for it. As such, the overriding strategy is to stop the spread of the virus by restricting the movement of persons,” he said.
He said this exercise saw the largest deployment of defence and security forces in an independent Namibia. “Despite the risk to themselves and the possibility of bringing the infection into their homes due to the absence of PPEs, they brave it out there in the belief that the well-being of the nation is paramount,” he said.
He said the mission of the NDF defines its three strategic objectives, which are to provide protection of the territorial integrity and national sovereignty, to provide provision of assistance to civil power and civil authorities and to deliver a contribution to international and regional peace and stability.
“Sovereignty comes with obligations. Once you are a sovereign state it means that there’s no other political authority higher than yours. There is no big brother,” he said.
“You depend on your own resources to defend your national interest and assert your supreme power and authority. And the defence force is the embodiment of that power and authority – the power of the state not of the government.”
2020-06-12 10:51:35 | 1 months ago