No Money for Pohamba’s Retirement Office

PLANS to set up retirement offices for President Hifikepunye Pohamba have not yet been finalised, about 12 months before he steps down.

This was confirmed by Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President, Samuel Goagoseb, who also acknowledged that his office is working on the retirement package for the President that will include his salary for life.

Gocircagoseb said the decision to either build new offices or relocate has not been made. The Former Presidents’ Pension and Other Benefits Act stipulates that an outgoing president is entitled to a fully equipped office as determined by Cabinet.

“Although it is in the Act, the decision has not been taken yet on where and when the offices will be built as that will be a collective decision of the Cabinet,” he said.

There is no budget for the construction of the new offices in the vote of the Office of the President’s 2014 financial year.

The State House accounting officer, however, said a decision will be taken if there are left over funds and the need to build arises.

When former president Sam Nujoma completed his tenure in 2005, he first used a guest house in Eros as his office before moving into the old office of the Ombudsman. Two government houses in Robert Mugabe Avenue were subsequently renovated by the State and brought under one roof. He now operates from there.

GOcircagoseb said they are calculating the retirement package, which will be determined by several factors, such as years of service. He, however, declined to reveal the retirement package describing it as personal information.

The President is reported to earn about N$2,1 million a year, a salary which is set at 15% above the remuneration and benefits of the prime minister.

GOcircagoseb said their main focus is on the construction of the retirement house for the president, adding that N$35 million has been budgeted for that purpose, including the renovation of the residence of former president Nujoma.

The Namibian reported last year that plans to build Pohamba’s retirement house have gone a step forward after the Windhoek City Council approved a request by the Office of the President to add and consolidate a portion to a plot where the lavish house will be built.

The PS revealed that Pohamba rejected the offer by the State to pay for an upper-class residence in Windhoek, located in Ausblick and that Pohamba paid N$1,9 million for the plot.

It remains unclear whether the Head of State will accept the new offices as sources at State House described him as wanting to be less flashy and turned down offers, despite the provisions being constitutional.

The Former Presidents’ Pension and Other Benefits Act outlines several benefits for former Presidents, from pension, benefits of the spouse, dependents, insolvency, exemption from income tax, residential home and offices.

According to that Act, Pohamba will be paid a monthly pension equal or greater than the monthly basic salary that he received immediately before leaving office as President or 80% of his successor’s salary.

Pohamba will leave with at least 10 security personnel, unless the number is increased by cabinet. He will have three drivers, two private secretaries, two personal assistants and two office attendants.

At his new home, Pohamba will be entitled to three domestic workers, two gardeners, two cooks, two waiters and two laundry workers. He will also be given three vehicles while his entertainment allowance and other costs will also be determined by Cabinet.

Presidential Affairs Minister Albert Kawana has in the past defended presidential perks as being aimed at encouraging leaders not to overstay in power.

Nujoma was granted a salary for life. During the first year after leaving office in 2005, Nujoma received an extra tax-exempted gratuity equal to one year’s salary of N$421 000 in addition to three cars – a Mercedes Benz S500, a four-wheel drive station wagon and a light truck.

Source : The Namibian