Presidency spends N$10 000 on ‘tips’ on foreign trip

Junias Kandjeke

The Presidency has instructed that N$10 646 be withdrawn from the government credit card for tips to the office’s security and protocol team.

The Presidency has also returned N$21,2 million, which “could have been used for other national pressing needs”.

This was revealed in an audit report into the accounts of the Office of the President from 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023, during the time when the late Hage Geingob was head of state.

The Office of the Auditor General has revealed that the Office of the President does not have a formal operational policy, guideline or directive in place for the use of credit cards.

This conclusion came after numerous irregular credit card activities.

The audit was done by auditor general Junias Kandjeke and his team.

“During an official mission to Ivory Coast (Abidjan), the funds have been used as gratuity for the security and protocol team that was attached to the president and delegation on the instruction of the private office,” the reports reads.

The trip took place in 2022.

Kandjeke was not provided authorisation from the private office to determine the authenticity and validity of the transactions, and to substantiate the withdrawal of funds.

“It is recommended that the accounting officer should provide the authorisation for the withdrawal of funds used for gratuity payments,” the report reads.

The accounting officer for the Presidency is executive director Grace Uushona.

Uushona has told Kandjeke that the Presidency is in agreement and still waiting for authorisation from the private office.

In another transaction, Kandjeke stated that an internal memo issued on 4 January 2023 authorised a staff member to withdraw an amount of N$23 210 from the credit card for entertainment expenses.

“However, the audit found that the credit card holder withdrew an amount of N$23 300 as per the bank statement dated 30 January 2023, and the expenditure incurred as per invoices amounted to N$21 332, thus resulting in an unexplained/unaccounted difference of N$1 967,” the report reads.

The Presidency did not provide an explanation for how the authorised amount was exceeded, and how the remaining amount of N$ 1 967,76 was utilised.

“It is recommended that the accounting officer should provide an explanation . . ,” Kandjeke said.

Uushona said her office agrees with the finding and will issue a letter to recover the amount from the responsible official.

In the office of the first lady, Kandjeke took issue with how daily subsistence and travel allowances (S&T) were dealt with in its accounting books.

“Treasury requires that expenditure should be charged from the standardised codes to which they belong.

“However, the audit found that entertainment allowances for the first lady (Monica Geingos) amounting to N$50 000 were paid from the (S&T) to the two staff members,” the auditor general said.

Kandjeke’s office was not provided with an explanation on why the first lady’s entertainment allowance was paid through staff members’ allowances.

“The accounting officer indicated that the office is in agreement with the finding and will ensure that the reallocation journal will be compiled after the trip to charge the correct account,” the report reads.

Kandjeke has told the Presidency to develop guidelines and implement them to promote financial integrity, minimise risks and foster accountability on the use of credit cards.

“The accounting officer indicated that the recommendation will be implemented during the 2023/24 financial year,” he says.

Last year, the parliamentary standing committee on public accounts during a hearing with the president’s office revealed that its credit cards are limitless.

“No treasury approval for the opening of these credit cards was provided for audit purposes,” the report reads.

The committee, led by lawmaker Dudu Murorua, yesterday asked the Office of the President to explain why employees, including one of Geingob’s security detail, were issued credit cards, while their appointment letters were not provided to the auditors.

Appointment letters are a prerequisite for the issuing of credit cards.

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