By: Dolly Menas
Major general of the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) Petrus Nathinge has stressed that the force is not discriminating against anyone for seeking to know the health status for army recruitment.
This comes after the public complained about the requirements of the 1,500 employment post. At the back of it is PDM’s member of parliament, Elma Dienda, who painted the criteria as ‘discriminating’.
“We are facing a dilemma, and we are not discriminating but trying by all means to remain a strong and reliable force,” Nathinge.
He said that the NDF, as an instrument of foreign policy, is expected to participate in bilateral and multilateral activities where a negative HIV test is done.
Nathinge emphasised that an HIV test is just a precautionary measure to prevent further transmission in training.
The defence force this week had come under fire after it put up entry conditions, which include those interested being aged between 18 to 25 years old before 31 July. Among other requirements, must be ready to undergo a comprehensive medical test including HIV/AIDS, pregnancy test, hold a grade 12 certificate and run 2.4KM in 14mins 30 seconds (for women).
According to him, basic military training involves physically straining activities which sometimes cause injuries to individuals hence the participants need to be tested.
Furthermore, Nathinge said that the Covid-19 vaccination is one of the mitigating measures against the spread of the pandemic.
“During military and fitness activities, it is not advisable to wear a mask as it may lead to oxygen deprivation resulting in suffocation,” he explained.
He also said that nowadays, a negative Covid-19 test and proof of vaccination are prerequisites in bilateral and multilateral engagements.
“As explained earlier, the 18-25 age is the limit age requirement for recruitment into the Namibian Defense Force,” he said
Nathinge also explained that the 2.4 km run is a universal practice in which physical fitness is a critical requirement for one to graduate from basic military training.
He said NDF is a training institution accredited by the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) and that it is required to train people who meet NQA requirements.
However, Dienda showed her disappointment with the recruitment requirements since she says the youth group is 18-35 and not 18-25.
She said the ministry discriminates and argued that health is a private matter.
“If the ministry wants the youth to be tested to be in the army, they should start by testing members of parliament for HIV.”
Meanwhile, defence minister Frans Kapofi said that the requirements for the HIV test are not to discriminate, but they did it in case of emergency. He also stamped that the force is not a job creation agency.
On Thursday, another PDM member of parliament, Yvette Araes, argued that vaccinations are not a prerequisite for obtaining gainful employment.
Araes thus said listing Covid-19 as a requirement is unfair with no basis in law.
Araes added that the guidelines for implementing the national code on HIV/AIDS in employment under the labour act stipulate that there should be no pre-employment tests for HIV.
“Normal medical tests to determine current fitness for work should not include HIV,” she said.
The Namibian constitution in article 10 says that all persons shall be equal before the law, and no persons may be discriminated against on the grounds of sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status.
“This applies to both the government and to private businesses. Mandatory testing will subject potential candidates with HIV to employment discrimination,” said Araes.
In this vein, she stressed that the PDM Youth League disagrees with the requirements.
“They must be altered immediately for them to be in line with the constitution, the national code on HIV/AIDS in employment and the national youth policy of Namibia.”