And while they’re about it, give former President Sam Nujoma one too. I wondered if it shouldn’t be the people who should decide, based on performance, whether the President deserves a pay increase, given that most of his living expenses are ‘on the house’.
SA media recently reported that SA increases would push a Cabinet member’s pay to just over R2 million; premiers (our equivalent of governors) would take home R1.88-mil- lion a year, mayors just over R1-million and MPs R889 393. South Africa has an independent commission which oversees remuneration for public servants, and which said its recommendations were based on the Consumer Price Index, the economic climate, as well as market trends in salary increases. Zuma received a 5.5 percent increase.
Comparisons are perhaps odious in this regard, particu- larly since SA has a population of 50.5 million compared to our more minuscule 2.1 million, but indications are their politicians and head of state aren’t earning significantly more than ours, which may mean we are erring on the side of extravagance.
Now our Prime Minister, Nahas Angula, will next week propose one Bill “to provide for the payment of remuneration and other benefits to the President and his or her spouse; and to provide for incidental matters”; and another “to amend the Former Presidents’ Pension and Other Benefits Act of 2004, so as to adjust the gratuity and housing benefits pay- able to former Presidents and their families; and to provide for incidental matters”.
It would be difficult to believe that both do not concern increases in pay, for the incumbent President and his wife; as well as for the former President ‘and his family’ (whatever that means) as well. What struck me about the move was not as much the prospect of pay hikes (even though our economic climate isn’t necessarily conducive) but the fact that it appears that “former Presidents AND their families” (my own emphasis added) will be catered for. Whether this is a new phenomenon or whether it is already in place, I am not sure, but I find it strange to note that the families of former Presidents will also be catered for.
Doesn’t seem fair when the ordinary worker is paid for the work he or she does, regardless of the size of their immediate or extended families. Which, obviously, is as it should be in my view. Yet still it is generally the lower-paid echelons of the workforce who have more mouths to feed on a monthly basis.
Since the promulgation of the President’s Emolument and Pension Act of 1990, where the head of state’s salary was set at N$180 000 per annum, we haven’t had real clarity in the ensuing 22 years since, and reports about remuneration of this and other senior political office-bearers have more often than not been speculative. That same act provided for a former President to earn an annual pension equal to annual salary as well as a gratuity when he left office of two times annual salary. We presume that former President Nujoma received this cash as well as multiple other benefits when he departed.
We do have a Public Office Bearers Remuneration and Benefits Commission, and the public is surely entitled to know the salary scales of the Government elite. If an Access to Information Act was in place in Namibia, this would surely be one of the areas to which media would demand access.
In the meantime figures available are largely conjecture, based nevertheless on fairly reliable sources.
A report in this newspaper in April this year set the President’s salary until mid last year at about N$2.1 million gross; with the First Lady earning more or less the equiva- lent of a deputy Permanent Secretary of over N$600 000 a year. Ministers then earned the equivalent of a million; the Speaker N$1.1 mllion, like the Deputy Prime Minister, while Governors earned about N$866 000 per annum. These have almost certainly increased since the last financial year.
The salary package and numerous perks and benefits of the former head of state, Sam Nujoma, was of course debated quite extensively in Parliament and elsewhere at the time he went into retirement, so more became known about this than other areas of top government remuneration.
But perhaps the Prime Minister, in motivating the two new Bills next week, will give the public what it deserves to know, which is clarity on the earnings of the President, former President as well as the political elite.
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