On face value, defence is one of the highest recipients of the national budget.
But at least 80% of what it received for the 2023/2024 financial year will go into remuneration-related expenditure, while the remaining 20% will have to cater for its operational costs, maintenance of dilapidated infrastructure, recruitmen and the construction of the ongoing defence headquarters in Suiderhof.
For the current financial year, defence was allocated N$6.1 billion. Of this, N$4.2 will cater for salaries.
It is projected that N$18.2 million will be used for subsistence and travel (S&) allowances, while maintenance will cost the ministry N$127 million.
On transport, defence anticipates to spend N$216 million, while N$12.5 million is earmarked for property rental and related charges.
“Even though there was a minimal allocation to infrastructure development, much was done on the renovation and rehabilitation of buildings and sewer systems in the old bases, as well as the construction of new facilities as per the planned phases,” defence and veterans affairs minister Frans Kapofi said this week.
“It is, however, painstaking that the construction of the head office of the ministry is taking long due to insufficient allocations. This does not only prolong the occupation of the new facility to lessen the scarcity of office accommodation in Windhoek, but it also increases the cost due to escalation,” he lamented.
Moreover, the ministry will spend N$15.1 million to procure furniture, N$28.2 to buy vehicles and N$453.8 million on operational equipment, machinery and plants.
These figures are embedded in defence and veterans’ affairs minister Kapofi’s budget motivation statement, delivered in the National Assembly for debate this week.
As history would have it, not much is expected to change from the budget as opposition politicians have over the years accused the executive of simply using Parliament to rubber-stamp already- decided matters.
Kapofi also told the august House that he was living up to his promise to account for public resources under his ministry’s care.
Last year, the ministry was allocated N$6.1 billion.
That budget, he said, provided flexibility for the reimaging of the Namibian Defence Force by improving its capabilities.
“We undertook to develop a structure that is responsive to future challenges, recruit fresh pairs of legs, improve infrastructure, and acquire new technologies. Emphasis was made on enhancing 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,” the minister said emphatically.
Last year, the army recruited around 1 300 trainees and about 200 officer cadets. That number has, however, been reduced as some trainees have voluntarily left for various reasons.
“I must inform you that the selection process for these recruits was transparent and allowed for equitable representation from all the regions as well as in terms of demography,” Kapofi once again lauded the recruitment.
But the challenges remain, he said.
“The capabilities of our defence force require serious revival and enhancement. Developing a credible defence capability is a crucial cornerstone of national security, and an intrinsic goal of the defence modernisation programmes. The previous national defence development plans have suffered repeated and continuous setbacks since the 1990s, and much of it is due to economic difficulties. In this regard, it is our hope that any gains on the economic front shall be accompanied by sustained efforts to modernise the defence force,” he said, adding that a new national defence development plan is underway.