By Victor Angula / <<Opinion>>

In a statement issued on 4 February 2020 the Ministry of Defence tried to justify the deployment of the army on the streets during the period towards the end of last year.

The Ministry’s executive director Rear Admiral Peter Hafeni Vilho said in the statement that the country’s armed forces have a legal obligation to work with the police in keeping law and order, peace and stability, in the country. He said their decision to get out of their bases was necessitated by the threats to the country’s peace and stability.

These threats were made by certain individuals on social media platforms during the presidential and parliamentary elections period.

Rear Admiral’s statement was made in response to the criticism directed to the military by the Society for Advocates of Namibia in January. The advocates told the media that the army had no right to get themselves involved in activities which the police can handle themselves.

Rear Admiral Vilho said that the advocates were wrong in their opinion. He said the army will continue to work with the police because they are doing so according to law.

But I also disagree with the Rear Admiral. My opinion is that whatever the law says on which the Admiral stands the military just have no right and authority to get out of their bases to go and do work which the police is supposed to do.

The primary purpose of having an army is for it protect Namibia’s sovereignty; it is to protect the country from foreign aggression.

The job to maintain peace and order inside the country is the work of the police. Even when the police seem to have been overpowered by criminal elements, the police can only borrow guns from the army so that the police may effectively accomplish their mission.

The army have no right to come out and fight on the streets with civilians; even if they are armed criminals.

In fact it was so funny, because there was not even a single incident which happened that can justify the military’s decision to go out onto the streets. The Admiral said that “prevention is better than cure”. It is true. But the police can do that. The army cannot stoop so low as to come out of bases just because of certain individuals who just speak on social media.

It is a fact that the country’s soldiers are bored to just be there in the bases eating and playing cards. They want to do something. Especially the young soldiers, they want to do something. But, unfortunately, if there is no war, there is nothing they can do.

Deploying them in the police operations to fight criminals on the streets, while the police have capacity to do it themselves it will bring the army into disrepute. Just give the police big guns if you think they have no power. But keep the soldiers out of anything taking place on the streets.