TUCNA up in arms over NDF's recruitment criteria

Recruitment requirements criticised
The Trade Union Congress of Namibia (TUCNA) says they will escalate the situation if the government does not retract the requirement of comprehensive medical testing for NDF recruits.
Leandrea mouers
The Trade Union Congress of Namibia (TUCNA) has accused government of showing a total disregard for an International Labour Organisation (IOL) convention which deals with discrimination.

"Government is ‘urinating’ on Convention 111 of the IOL by demanding in its recruitment requirements that those joining the Namibia Defence Force should be subjected to comprehensive medical testing including HIV/Aids testing. It is disheartening to be attending a conference on ILO Conventions that we have ratified as a country while the ministry of defence is not adhering to it,” said the secretary general of the union Mahongora Kavihuhua.

He pointed out that Namibia stood before the Committee of Application of Standards (CAS), a technical committee of the ILO responsible for dealing with countries that violate conventions, last year. “Namibia was in violation of Convention 111 which deals with discrimination on various grounds. The Namibian government through the minister of labour made a commitment that the county will not violate this convention again and called for technical assistance from the ILO."

Stakeholders have been working on a roadmap for the past year with technical assistance granted to ensure that this violation does not take place again.

"We are shocked that the ministry of defence repeated the same actions which brought Namibia before the committee of experts, by discriminating against people living with HIV/Aids as well as those who are not vaccinated against Covid-19, while working on a roadmap which will soon be implemented. Our constitution (Article 95) makes it clear that any ratified ILO Convention forms an integral part of our laws.”

Kavihuhua challenged the ministry of labour and president Geingob to pronounce themselves on the matter. “They are just quiet while our laws, international instruments that we've ratified and decisions made by our courts, are being disrespected."

He said that in 2000 a High Court ruling was made, that subjecting recruits to HIV/Aids testing is unconstitutional and discriminatory. “Yet, the NDF is going ahead with this standing ruling in place. They are justifying their reasons with lousy excuses and regards themselves as above the law.”

Kavihuhua said that the country should stop pretending to be law-abiding while government institutions are violating its laws. “The state is the one who is promoting lawlessness. We need to act and as a labour movement want these requirements reversed. I don’t know who told these generals that someone with HIV/Aids cannot shoot a gun, or run. I don’t know who told them that if you are unvaccinated you are useless. Where are these things coming from? It is up to us as Namibian citizens, the unemployed and the parents of these potential recruits to call these state agencies to order, so that they can start respecting Namibian laws.”

According to the unionist there are only two options to be taken should the requirements not be retracted. “We need to bring an urgent application to the high court for violating and exercising discrimination. We will also inform ILO that the government of Namibia is breaking their promise of rectifying its action of discriminating against people living with HIV/Aids. Not even 12 months have passed since Namibia appeared before that committee. We are definitely going to take this matter further so that the NDF can be called to order.”

Kavihuhua said that if Namibia opt not to rectify the matter, the country’s rating in terms of being a friendly foreign direct investment country could fall.