President Hage Geingob has reduced his international trips from 74 days last year to 41 days this year – reducing his potential subsistence and travel (S&Ts) allowance to around N$715 000.
The president’s biggest S&T source is N$210 200 from his 11-day stay in New York and 14-day stay in Dubai, which qualified him for around N$290 000 for the 13 days in the United Arab Emirates.
State House has for years defended the president’s travels.
Earlier this year, the Presidency was criticised for allowing a seemingly ill president to travel for an international trip after a medical operation.
The Namibian last year reported that Geingob may have pocketed about N$3 million in S&Ts from 19 foreign trips he undertook that year.
Now he has made only nine trips to eight countries.
State House’s press secretary has declined to comment on this report.
This year Geingob travelled to the United States, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, Finland, South Africa, Angola, France and Ethiopia.
His first trip abroad this year was on 17 February when he travelled to Addis Ababa for an African Union summit from 18 to 19 February.
On 20 April, the president flew to Pretoria for a state visit.
A statement by the office of the South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, stated that Geingob travelled to South Africa on Ramaphosa’s invitation.
Geingob returned home on 22 April.
The president did not fly for three months, only resuming his travels on 16 August.
In June this year, Geingob underwent “minor” heart surgery in South Africa. He was also hospitalised in Cape Town towards the end of July for a follow-up visit.
This time he went to Luanda, Angola, for the Southern African Development Community summit.
The summit took place from 16 to 17 August.
Luanda is considered one of the favourate destinations of government officials to claim S&Ts.
Geingob qualified for N$32 500 for one day in Angola’s capital.
Five days after returning from Angola, Geingob departed to Johannesburg to participate in the Brics-Africa summit.
‘DELEGATION’S TRAVELS CONCERNING’
Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah says Geingob should be applauded for reducing his number of trips abroad.
He says this is in line with his ban on international travelling during his first term.
“Of concern are the outcomes of those travelling for him and his delegation. Are we reaping what we are sowing from those trips? We need to measure the outcomes of those trips,” Kamwanyah says.
Political commentator Henning Melber says: “There seems to be room for improvement – not least when it comes to the size of his entourage.”
Melber says the recent inclusion of presidential family members to attend COP28 in Dubai has cast doubt on who covered these expenses.
“Not only the number of trips is relevant, but also their transparency and accountability. Travelling on taxpayers’ money to receive an award, for example, is as the main purpose of a trip difficult to justify,” he says.
Last year Hengari said presidents take the most cost-effective option when travelling, and only cater for their meals and other incidental expenses.
The state bears responsibility for their accommodation on official missions, he said.
This year, Geingob attended the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York from 17 to 24 September.
He left the country on 14 September.
A statement by the Presidency suggested that Geingob would stop in France, where he delivered a public lecture. The president arrived in Windhoek from New York on 28 September.
A few weeks later, Geingob departed to Cape Town, South Africa, for the African Energy Week conference.
The summit ran from 16 ro 18 October.
While there, Geingob received an Africa Energy Chamber lifetime achievement award from a company whose executive chairman was allegedly convicted of fraud in the United States (US).
Geingob returned home on 18 October.
On 22 October Geingob flew to Brussels, Belgium, for the inaugural Global Gateway Forum. The president spent four days there.
On 9 November, Geingob went to Helsinki, Finland, to attend the funeral of former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari.
He returned home on 13 November.
On 27 November Geingob travelled to Dubai to participate in the 28th climate change conference, or COP28.
He was accompanied by first lady Monica Geingos and their children. The first family returned home on 10 December.
While in Dubai, the Presidency released a statement noting: “The Namibian public and the media should rest assured that not a single cent of public funds has been spent on the children of the first couple.”
Some members of the public have challenged the Presidency to provide proof of payment for the flight tickets of family members.
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