An Afghan de-mining organisation claims our Defence Force owes tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid costs and salaries.
But our government says it severed all financial ties with the organisation because it's now part of a ministry under Taliban rule.
Clearing the firing ranges used by our Defence Force in Bamyan Province was a dangerous job. It needed to be quality checked and signed off by the Directorate of Mine Action Coordination.
"The project was completed even we signed all competition documents," says firing range project manager Hasamedin Sediqi.
But it wasn't until after then that they found out the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the NZDF was nullified.
"We received different positive emails and we received the green light," Sediqi says.
That was until November 19, when the NZDF ended the agreement, backdating it to August when the Taliban took over Afghanistan and adding "nor are we able to provide any funds to you in recognition of work completed".
The Defence Force told Newshub "agencies were working on agreeing on the formal nullification" and "we believe the nature of the work meant the timeframe was not unreasonable".
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"We spend four, five to six months on this project but we did not receive our salary," Sediqi says.
The MoA signed in 2019 states it would continue until:
- either participant provides 60 days notice of intention to terminate
- the project is completed
- or two years after the arrangement came into effect
The total amount of pending payments is claimed to be more than NZ$130,000. But our foreign policy prohibits funding to any organisation that is part of the Taliban-controlled Afghan government.
And the Defence Force says that "overrides any clauses the non-binding MoA may have contained".
"As a project manager I'm very very sorry and I'm very shameful against my staff," Sediqi says.
The NZDF's firing ranges may have been cleared - but the situation is still untidy.