Namibia’s pensioners carrying the unemployed

Efano: Lugeretzia KooperKind Regards, TAVA XUPU MOPENDJELA … Omukulupe Alfred Matomola nomukulukadi waye Pricah Mubuso, nounona vavo vatano voukadona novatekulu vavo vaheyali ohava xupu ashike moshimaliwa shopendjela yovakulupe N$1 400 oyo ha mono komwedi okudja kepangelo.
… Family of 14 relies on social grant of N$1 400

Pensioner Alfred Matomola (67) says his monthly old-age grant is gone within hours of receiving it.

Matomola uses the N$1 400 to take care of the 14 members of his household.

He splits this between rent, electricity, and buying his family food and other essential items.

Speaking to The Namibian yesterday at his rental mud-structured house at Katima Mulilo’s Cowboy settlement, Matomola said his expenses are just too much.

He looks after his wife, five daughters, and seven grandchildren, he says.

“N$800 goes to rent.”

This leaves him with N$600 to feed 14 people for a month.

“These days, food is very expensive, and look at how many people I am supposed to feed. The N$200 that was added will not make any difference in our lives.

“The late president Hage Geingob, because of his humility and loyalty to us pensioners, wished for an increment to N$3 000, but it was not done.

“The least they could have done is to give N$2 000, though it’s still not enough. They are now making out the late president’s Geingob as a liar in the eyes of us old people,” he says.

Minister of finance and public enterprises Iipumbu Shiimi announced an increase of N$200 in the old-age pension during the recent national budget announcement.

Matomola says all his children are unemployed.

One of his grandchildren receives N$350 per month in the form of an orphans and vulnerable children grant.
This helps a bit, he says.

“Imagine that some of these children are going to school on a daily basis and need to eat. We are surviving on God’s grace only,” he says.

Matomola is not alone.

His plight is that of many pensioners in Namibia.


Liezel Koopman (25) lives with her mother, Katrina Koopman (79) at Keetmanshoop. The family of 10 lives in a two-bedroom shack with no electricity or water.

Liezel has been unemployed for six years and has two children, which her mother takes care of.

Katrina also has three sons, who are all unemployed.

“After two years of constant job searches, I still have nothing. My mother’s pension covers our rent and food,” Liezel says.

She says there is no money left for emergencies.

Sometimes they are unable to pay their rent and are then evicted.

LIVING OFF OLD-AGE PENSION GRANT … Pensioner Alfred Ma- tomala and his wife Pricah Mubuso,their five daughters and seven grandchildren are living off his monthly old-age pension of N$1400 which he receives from the government. Photo: Lugeretzia Kooper


Petrus Sheehama(72) wants to know why the government did not honour Geingob’s wish.

“What can we do with this additional N$200? The government has already failed to provide jobs for all these children.
I have grown men in my yard, living with their wives and children.

“When it’s pension payday, I already have a long list of needs from my own sons, grandchildren and my own house,” he says.
Sheehama is living in a two-bedroom brickhouse at Tseiblaagte.

However, his backyard is filled with three additional two-bedroom shacks to accommodate his sons and their families.


Pensioners at Walvis Bay say they cannot keep up with bills and buying food and other necessities.

Selma Noabes (69) says she has a large family to feed, including her grandchildren an unemployed brother.

“I did not even pay my house bills. We should be greatful that we receive the money, but it does not help. It is not even enough for people who receive money from their employed children.

“I cannot even pay my electricity bills. I cannot buy meat. I have grandchildren who have lost their parents. We are eight in the house. I only went to school up to Grade 6. After that, I was a pre-school teacher,” she says.

Hilde Gaweses (71) from Kuisebmond, who lives with her daughter, says she helps her daughter buy food and pay bills.

“She really tries to find a job, but there are no jobs. The money is not enough. What can we say? I also have sisters with children, and I also feed them.”

Sofia Vries (72) from Kuisebmond is taking care of four grandchildren.

Her four children are unemployed.

“I am the main breadwinner. My four children try to do small jobs, but it is not enough.There are no jobs. We thought we would get the N$3 000. We thought we would breathe, but all hope is gone,” she says.


Julia Maemeko (70) at Khorixas says she feeds her three children and five grandchildren with her pension money, apart from paying her municipal bills.

She says she really hoped the government would increase the grant.

“I had so much hope that we would get N$3 000, so much so that I already had plans how I was going to spend it.

“However, I am now truly disappointed. What does one do with a mere N$200?

“It’s really a pity that God took away the man who gave us hope. This would not have been the case if he were alive,” she said.


National Democratic Party (NDP) president Martin Lukato says he is very disappointed that the government only added N$200 to the old-age pension.

“Given the current drought situation, the NDP feels the government was supposed to have honoured president Hage Geingob’s wish.

“This could make a difference in improving the livelihoods of our poor people, who depend on communal farming. The price of maize meal and other consumer goods is expensive,” he says.

United Democratic Front (UDF) spokesperson Mabasen /Narib also says the increase is disappointing, especially considering hyperinflation and the many people relying on pensioners.

“This increase is a mere drop in the ocean,” he says.

The UDF is also sympathising with orphans, whose grant remains unchanged.

“It was expected that that matter would have been proritised, but the budget which was tabled proved otherwise,” /Narib says.

Theresia !Ganes (70), a resident of Outjo who lives with her six-year-old grandson, says she spends N$500 on a food combo every month, and N$500 on water, housing and electricity.

She is hopeful, though.

“Let’s wait and be patient. The government might increase the pension money from time to time,” she says.

!Ganes says she has managed to save N$400 for emergencies.

“I appreciate the N$200 that was added. Our government really takes care of its elderly, and some of us appreciate that,” she says.

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