Pensioners say social grant increase not enough

Monica Shikwambi

While some pensioners have welcomed the government’s decision to increase their monthly grant by N$200, others insist the late president Hage Geingob’s wish to increase it to N$3 000 should have been considered. Some have noted that the cost of living has gone up and the increase is merely a drop in the ocean.

Last week, finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi announced that the social grant increased from N$1 400 to N$1 600 when he tabled the 2024/25 national budget.


Lucia Swart Kalf (70), from the Windhoek Babylon informal settlement, recently said the increase will make a difference in paying off her debts.

She said the N$200 will go a long way to ensure she pays off a cash loan she took from a financial institution when her eldest daughter died in 2020.

“I can’t complain. I am grateful since this will help me pay off the loan I took out in 2020,” said Swart Kalf.

She has plans to extend the shack where she lives with her children and grandchildren, she said.

“I will buy two zincs and poles each month until the building materials are enough to make it bigger.”

She spends most of her day sewing material pieces together to make traditional clothes by hand, because she can’t afford a sewing machine, she said.

Her grandchild, Dennis Nangolo (22), said his grandmother is a breadwinner for 12 people at their home.

Most of the relatives at home are unemployed and one of his uncles dropped out of school while he was in Grade 5 due to being a victim of bullying. He now survives by collecting recyclables to help his mother put food on the table, Nangolo said.


Some pensioners told The Namibian they were hoping the government would fulfil president Geingob’s wish for pensioners social grants to be increased to between N$2 000 and N$3 000.

Saima Kamati (87), a retired domestic worker from Donkerhoek, asked what would happen to Geingob’s wish and whether the social grant would be increased again.

“I guess it came to an end after his (Geingob’s) death,” she said.

Kamati, who has lived in Windhoek for 63 years, was having lunch at her home. She said gone are the days when pensioners used to receive less than N$1 000 in social grants.

Kamati said when Geingob became president, he increased the social grant three times, from N$600 to N$1 000, to N$1 200 and N$1 400.

“I was hopeful that the elderly would receive the N$3 000 to help us fight poverty,” she said, adding that poverty is an illness.

Lisaes Shikale (73) said with high inflation, the N$200 increase will not make any difference.

Shikale was looking forward to the N$3 000 Geingob mentioned last year.

“We are finding it very hard to survive in the city nowadays, not like before. I have been living here since 1963 and was part of a group of people who were moved to this area from the Old Location, he said.

John Tobias (84) lives with his wife, 40-year-old son who has a mental illness and two grandchildren. He said his household lives on N$2 800 that he and his wife receive as pension.

“It is hard to afford anything. The money we receive only covers water and electricity bills, it’s not enough to buy groceries that will last a month,” he said.

Monica Shikwambi (80) is not satisfied with the increase, because she said it is too little and the cost of living is extremely high.

“I am in and out of hospital and that money won’t last me the whole month either.”

Public policy analyst Graham Hopwood said public participation in the national budget process is crucial as it increases public trust in the government.

The following are key reasons why Hopwood believes the public’s understanding of budgeting is essential:
“It is important that the public adds input to the budget process. This increases public trust in the government and helps to ensure accountability and transparency,” Hopwood said.

“The budget is the single most important piece of legislation the government brings to the parliament, because it indicates the government’s overall priorities for the country.”

Shiimi last week said paying pensioners N$3 000 will cost N$720 million a month.

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