Lawmakers push for early pension

Namibian parliamentarians are pushing for a similar law as in South Africa where citizens can access their pension while working.

This comes after South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, signed a law that allows citizens access to their pension savings in case of emergency.

Ramaphosa last week signed into law the revenue laws amendment bill of 2023, which establishes a ‘two-pot’ system that gives members of retirement funds access to retirement savings without having to resign or cash out their entire pension fund.

This system includes a savings component allowing access before retirement during times of financial distress.

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) chief whip Elma Dienda, who tabled a similar motion in 2009, last week said early pension access allows individuals to spend their hard-earned money while still alive.

Elma Dienda

Dienda said pension investments are also being invested recklessly.

“It will just be right for people to have access to their money without repayment. My money, my business. No one will be forced to take it. People should always have a choice,” she said.

Swapo parliamentarian and chairperson of the parliamentary standing committee on economics and public administration Natangwe Ithete said Namibia should have had this system in place already.

“We must never be a country that follows what others do. It was not supposed to first happen in South Africa before we implemented it here. It should not be a habit where others lead and we follow,” he said.


Last year, Ithete spoke out strongly against the proposed Fima regulation that 75% of a retirement fund must be preserved until the early retirement date. This regulation not in force yet.

Activist and presidential hopeful Job Amupanda recently announced on social media that he has been advocating for government employees to have access to funds held by the Government Institutions Pensions Fund while they are still employed and alive.

He says discussions on this issue are ongoing and that progress is being made.

Job Amupanda

Economist Omu Kakujaha-Matundu does not oppose the early pension access system.

“For me it makes more economic sense if employees are allowed to borrow against their pensions to invest in some projects such as crop and livestock production, small spa shops, urban agriculture, apiary, etc.

“This would not only supplement and increase household income, but would stimulate the economy in general,” he said.
Kakujaha-Matundu said it would also complement “measly” monthly pensions received upon retirement.

“It is especially crucial for black people, for whom the asset deficit remains high,” he said.

Herbert Jauch from the Economic and Social Justice Trust says allowing early pension access has both positive and negative consequences.

“It is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the flexibility clause allows retirement fund members to deal with emergencies, which can be a great relief for them.

“On the other hand, this may reduce the pensions they receive once they reach retirement age,” he says.

Labour expert Sydwill Scholtz says there is a constant battle between current and future retirement needs.

“Should this early pension access be considered for the Namibian market it should be conducted with proper education initiatives and the need for members to understand the long-term impact and loss on the compounding effect of such withdrawal as far as the interest growth on their benefits are concerned,” Scholtz says.

He says more research is needed to understand how this could impact unemployment, especially youth unemployment, before considering it for Namibia.

Economist Theo Klein says Namibia leads Africa in retirement capital relative to its economy, with savings at about 116% of its gross domestic product, yet only 10% of Namibians can retire comfortably.

“The fact that so few Namibians are able to retire comfortably will ultimately have an impact on the future generation as their incomes, through tax, can provide the government with income for future pension benefits.

“This is further exacerbated by the high youth unemployment rate. Given this context, we would need to safeguard retirement capital and not allow people to access it before retirement,” he says.


The implementation of Fima as paused for further consultation due to criticism of the preservation clause and a technical advisory committee chaired by Manfred Zamuee, including stakeholders from labour, employers, pension funds, service providers and industry bodies, was appointed.

The comprised three parts: public consultations, technical research and recommendations.

Zamuee says the committee has completed public consultations across the country and is awaiting a technical report before finalising recommendations.

“Some public suggestions were also made about a two-pot system for Namibia, but this will be discussed with technical research findings to see viability in our context.

“Overall, the feeling was positive about mandatory savings, provided the regulation considers the socio-economic circumstances of our people and security of invested assets,” Zamuee says.

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