14 November 2012

Namibia: Government Clarifies 'state House Dinner'

Windhoek — Government has responded to media reports of the dinner that took place at State House on Thursday last week.

Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Joël Kaapanda, says the dinner was "a private affair and the State President has a full right to entertain his guests at his official residence."

"It does not make sense as alleged that the dinner in question was a fundraising function for the Swapo Congress. If that was the case, many people would have been invited in order to maximise the contribution," Kaapanda said in a statement issued late yesterday.

The minister further responded to newspaper editorials that alluded that hosting a private dinner at State House is tantamount to abuse of state property and that the guests who attended the dinner were asked to pay N$100 000 per person. Such reports, he said, are attempting to portray President Dr Hifikepunye Pohamba as a corrupt president.

"This is a preposterous allegation. President Pohamba is known for his open-door policy - so why should he demand payment from the citizens of their country in order to have access to his official residence?" Kaapanda said.

The minister further emphasised that "the dinner in question was not held at State House but at the private residence of the President, which is also a family house for the Pohamba family during his presidency. There is no other ideal place for the State President to entertain his guests other than the official residence. Therefore, the question of abuse of state property does not arise. Furthermore, the question whether the dinner was a social/political event is immaterial. The President has the right to invite whoever he wishes and discussions around the table can be either social or political."

Kaapanda pointed out that President Pohamba has an entertainment budget approved by Parliament that he can use at his own discretion.

"It is evident that anarchists of all shades are busy creating a political atmosphere aimed at making Namibia ungovernable. However, they must be told in a clear language that they will not succeed in their diabolic machinations. I therefore wish to condemn the [newspapers] that are trying to drum up a political controversy from a normal dinner for reasons known to themselves - that they too will not succeed in their endeavour," he said.

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