Govt sues ex-deputy minister over travel allowance

Engel Nawatiseb
… Nawatiseb says he is honest and clean

The government is suing former deputy minister and Swapo member of parliament Engel Nawatiseb for close to N$110 000, claiming he has failed to honour an undertaking to pay an unused travel allowance and salary overpayment back to the state treasury.

Nawatiseb has given notice that he plans to oppose a claim for the payment of N$108 822,20 that the government filed against him in the Windhoek High Court in April.

He is not disputing that he received the money the government is claiming from him, but he has a defence to the government’s claim, Nawatiseb said yesterday.

“I’m an honest person. I’m a very clean person,” he said, adding that is why he has acknowledged that he received the money and gave an undertaking to pay it back.

However, due to financial difficulties experienced since he left his position in parliament and government, he has not been able to make the payments he undertook to make, Nawatiseb said.

When his circumstances improve he will try to make the promised payments though, he said.

In the government’s claim against Nawatiseb, who served as deputy minister of public enterprises and of information and communication technology and was a member of the National Assembly from 2015 to 2020, it is alleged that he received a subsistence allowance payment of N$77 258,88 for an official trip to Barcelona, Spain, in February 2020.

However, the trip was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions placed on international travel at the time, government lawyer Deon Ndana stated in a document filed at the court.

Nawatiseb said yesterday the travel allowance payment was used to pay for hotel accommodation in Barcelona. When the conference he was supposed to attend was cancelled, the hotel refused to refund the money to him, he said.

The government is also alleging in its claim that Nawatiseb received an overpayment of N$19 903,81 on his salary in March 2020.

Nawatiseb said the government should hold the people who made the salary overpayment to him accountable for their error.

In July 2020, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology informed Nawatiseb in writing that he owed the government a total amount of N$108 822,20.

The amount was made up of the travel allowance and salary overpayment and also interest at an annual rate of 12% on the amounts paid to Nawatiseb.

On the same date that he was informed of the amount he owed to the government, Nawatiseb gave a written undertaking to pay the amount of N$108 822,20 within 12 months, starting from the end of September 2020.

The government is claiming that although Nawatiseb gave that undertaking he has failed to pay the travel allowance and salary overpayment back to the state treasury.

Ndana informed judge Boas Usiku during a case planning hearing yesterday that the government intends to apply for a summary judgement to be given in the matter – a judgement given when the court finds that a defendant does not have a genuine defence to a claim against him.

Usiku ordered that the government’s application for a summary judgement should be filed by 5 July, with the application to be heard on 31 July.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News