Push to double disability grant

Efano: La yandjwa NAI WEDELWE…Ovanaulema otava pula epangelo opo li ninge omalunduluko momulandu walo li dule okuwedela oshimaliwa shoulema ngee omunhu a wanifa eedula 60 ndee inava kala ashike hava pewa oshimaliwa shoukulupe.

People with disabilities are calling on the government to double the national disability grant after beneficiaries turn 60, instead of the grant then becoming an old-age grant.

The call was made by Matheus Hashoongo, the chairperson of the National Federation of People with Disabilities in Namibia (NFPDN), in an interview with The Namibian yesterday.

Hashoongo said when people with disabilities turn 60 their disabilities do not disappear and their needs increase.

“Let the government reconsider this. Our people are dying in abject poverty,” he said.

This follows after the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare on 31 May announced that people who receive basic state grants would receive an increased payment in August.

The ministry said the payment would be back-dated from 1 April and would therefore include N$800 for April to July, as well as a grant of N$1 600, amounting to N$2 400.


Hashoongo said this announcement was partially welcomed.

“We hoped the government would increase it with N$2 000, instead of N$200. It came as a shock, that’s why we are not impressed or happy with that,” he said.

Meanwhile, economist Omu Kakujaha-Matundu says the grant is far from adequate.

“One should also add that since the grants are universal and not differentiated, those children and pensioners with more needs find it difficult to make ends meet,” he said.

Matundu said children and those with disabilities often need to share their meagre grants with caretakers.

“One could propose that the government consider a monthly caretaker grant,” he said.

“In the absence of a universal basic income grant, the proposal by our late president to increase the old-age pension to a monthly N$3 000 makes socio-economic sense.

“Such an increase would be an equivalent to a basic income grant with a cheaper delivery system,” he said.

Khoe-|Habe Uxams (63) from Henties Bay says the government ought to understand that the elderly have expenses for which even the increased N$1 600 is not sufficient.

“The elderly are the only ones who mostly pay for services provided by the municipality. We pay for water and electricity. We pay for housing. We have medical expenses.

“We have other accounts as well besides food. That is what the government must also understand,” she said.

Both Uxams and her husband are on chronic medicine, which they mostly have to buy directly from private pharmacies as state pharmacies are often out of stock.

Johanna Upites (88) from Otjiwarongo says she would like to see the state scrutinising cash loans, supermarkets and alcohol outlets which allow pensioners to take goods on account after handing over their pension cards – only to withdraw the pensioners’ whole grant.

“Now that the increase is finally coming, we want the Ministry of Health and Social Services to put measures in place that would make it a criminal offence for businesses to take elders’ pay cards for debt.

“The debts these elders are lured into is to charge them extra interest in paying back. They never get their cards back and do not know the value of their state grants,” Upites said.

Valentina Christians from Keetmanshoop says she really appreciates the disability grant, but feels the state should provide pensioners and disability grant beneficiaries with medical aid.


Social justice advocate Rinaani Musutua questions the delay in implementing the increment.

“It is a good move that the government has taken to increase the grants, but one only wonders why it takes so long before the money is paid in.

“There is always a delay when it comes to poor people, but when the ruling elites need money, it’s always processed fast,” she says.

Musutua says the increment would make a difference if the government fulfilled former president Hage Geingob’s wish to increase the grant to N$2 000.

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