Swapo foots bill for policy conferenceBy: SELMA SHIPANGA
REMINDING public servants attending the Swapo National Policy Conference that they are“not on holiday”, Prime Minister Nahas Angula yesterday also announced that the “Swapo Party will be carrying the expenses for the conference, and not the government”.
The conference is attended by 350 delegates from all Swapo structures from all regions of Namibia.
Angula’s announcement came after revelations surfaced last year that the government had been paying for Swapo events.
Although Swapo has claimed that the events were not bankrolled by government, the ruling party has never provided proof that they have paid for services provided by government at its functions.
On the contrary, there is evidence that the State have been paying for a number of its events.
Also it is not known how the State will be compensated for the absence of the number of civil servants not at work and whether they had put in leave.
In June last year, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts grilled the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Nangula Mbako, over the cost of a 178-page glossy publication for the Swapo Party congress in 2007.
The document, exclusively printed for the Swapo congress, cost the taxpayer N$123 850 and was described by the Permanent Secretary as a public document.
The Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture also came under fire after revelations that Swapo wanted it to pay for the Africa-China Young Leaders Forum held in May last year in Windhoek.
Service providers were left high and dry when Swapo did not settle the outstanding debts and requested the Youth Ministry to pay for it.
But the ministry said it was not responsible for any outstanding bills of the conference.
The ministry’s then permanent secretary, Peingeondjabi Shipoh, said the conference was co-hosted by the Swapo Party and the Communist Party of China and the two were supposed to co-sponsor the event.
Shipoh admitted that the ministry paid for the Chinese martial arts delegation that attended the conference, in terms of bilateral cultural exchanges between the two countries. It also paid for other expenses such as transport, visas and security as the “custodian of youth affairs” in the country.
The revelations about the Treasury bankrolling Swapo events are also ascribed to the undercurrents in the ruling party’s presidential succession race and not only the interest the Parliamentary Standing Committee showed in public expenditure.
The fall-out between Swapo Party secretary general Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and Minister Kazenambo Kazenambo over the unpaid forum bills would not have come out in the open had it not been for the presidential succession race.
The sources claimed that the government has had to foot the bill for Swapo Party activities on numerous occasions in the past, suggesting that the succession tussle is now bringing to the fore things that normally would not have shown up on the radar.
The director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), Graham Hopwood, at the time said that after many years of Swapo Party rule, the lines between the party and State had become blurred, with few Swapo members still seeing the difference between the party and the State.
“This is not very healthy in a democracy, we must behave as if different parties could rule,” said Hopwood.
He also commented that parties should use the State funding they receive as a first option before approaching the government for handouts.