Issues Warning to Wayward Soldiers By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK A bright blue sky and sunny weather heralded the change of authority at the Namibian Defence Force yesterday when retired Lieutenant General Dumeni Hawala handed over the sword as a symbol of command to Lieutenant General Martin Shalli. Held before thousands of people, the change of command ceremony was conducted in the highest tradition and honour of military service. Cabinet ministers, diplomats, the commissioner of prisons and other top officials in government were all there to witness the momentous event. After the arrival of the two generals in ceremonial Yaza vehicles, a 16-gun salute followed by a military anthem performed by the NDF band filled the air as a sign of the beginning of the ceremony. An invocation by the military chaplain followed just after Shalli and Hawala inspected the military parade. Following march-pasts, three helicopters, two with the NDF flag and led by one with the national flag flew past the stadium to honour the milestone. Before he officially took leave of his duties, Hawala said it was saddening that he was leaving the force, a field he was involved in for the past 40 years. While it is always difficult to bid farewell to friends and colleagues, Hawala said, he left his career with a great feeling of satisfaction, adding that the NDF has made significant strides at different levels of operation. “I am therefore leaving the NDF with fond memories. I am delighted at the successes we have achieved in order to be where we are today,” he said. Since its inception in 1990, the NDF is one of the government institutions that have successfully applied the policy of national reconciliation. The force’s achievements are not only known in Namibia but footprints will remain imprinted in other countries that were and are war stricken. Under his leadership, NDF soldiers contributed to the maintenance of international peace and security in countries such as Cambodia, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Liberia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ivory Coast and also Kosovo. While involved in international affairs and at home the NDF, Hawala revealed, carried the constitutional duty of maintaining peace and security. One of the successful operations, according to him, was the thwarting of the secessionist rebellion in the Caprivi in 1999. It suppressed and eliminated the threat of Unita banditry activities in the Kavango and rendered support to the Namibian police in the maintenance of law and order. It also rendered assistance to civil powers and communities in combating the effects of natural disasters and calamities. “I am therefore pleased that I am leaving behind a defence force which does not only pride itself in its composition of hardened warriors and a tested leadership, but a defence force that has over the years been able to pass on experience and responsibilities to the young and promising sons and daughters of the land,” he said. In his acceptance remarks Shalli, who described Hawala as a source of inspiration and encouragement, assured that he would seek to take the force to even greater heights provided the necessary resources are availed. However Shalli warned undisciplined members of the NDF to either “shape up or ship out”. He disclosed that the NDF has joined the relentless battle against injustice, unfairness and corrupt practices for the common good of the country and its people. To his predecessor, he said, “We shall continue to knock at your door in a quest to quench our thirst from your wealthy fountain of knowledge and experience accumulated over a long period of selfless and devoted national service.” Minister of Defence Charles Namoloh congratulated both Hawala and Shalli. He described Hawala as a veteran of the liberation struggle who is a father to most soldiers. Turning to Shalli, the minister said that his enormous experience and leadership skills would help the defence force in many ways. Shalli joined Swapo in 1971 and three years later became a member of Plan, the military wing of the then liberation movement. He underwent training at different institutions outside the country such as in the USSR where he obtained a qualification as a Mechanized Infantry Brigade Commander. He also studied at the Royal College of Defence in the United Kingdom. Following independence, Shalli held different positions in the NDF through the years, such as Director of Operations, Plans and Training with the rank of Brigadier General, Chief of Staff Major General and Army Commander, Major General before he was appointed Namibian High Commissioner to Zambia, a post he held for a relatively short period. Equally, Hawala received training from different institutions where he obtained various qualifications including that of a Brigadier Commander from the USSR. In addition, he did a company commander course in North Korea and basic military training in Kongwa, Tanzania. From 1990 until 2000, Hawala was the army commander with the rank of Major General. From 2000, he served as Chief of the Defence Force with the rank of Lieutenant General.
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