13 March 2018

Namibia: Maamberua Wants State Funeral Criteria Reviewed

Swanu member of parliament Usutuaije Maamberua last week said the government should review the criteria of according state funerals after revelations that N$5 million was spent when three politicians died in 2017 and 2018.

Maamberua made these remarks after finance minister Calle Schlettwein had presented the 2018/19 budget where the figures are contained in a document titled 'Contingency Provision for the Financial Year 2017/18 and Its Utilisation'.

According to the document, the government spent part of N$3 million on the funeral of liberation struggle hero Andimba Toivo ya Toivo; N$1,5 million on the Kunene regional governor Angelika

Muharukua's funeral; and N$2 million on former minister Rosalia Nghidinwa's funeral at Rundu.

The finance ministry's permanent secretary, Ericah Shafudah, told The Namibian on Sunday that about N$2 million was spent on the funeral, while about N$1 million went to the Heroes Acre account.

Maamberua argued that Namibia could not afford state funerals.

"Even if we were not facing financial difficulties, we would not be able to afford the funerals," he said, adding that the government needs to change its criteria on according state funerals.

He said sharing costs with the family was not an option because most will not afford it once the government accords a politician a state funeral.

Maamberua said the government should bestow honorary status on selected people, and let the family take care of the funeral.

"Once you call it a state funeral, then the government will have to pay. The government can bestow honorary status, for example, hero status, without being obliged to pay for the funeral," he added.

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) parliamentarian Vipuakuje Muharukua said he does not agree with the idea that there must not be any state funerals.

"We should come up with a formula to determine what qualifies for a state funeral, and what doesn't," he noted.

Muharukua said this about the funeral of Dawid Frederick, chief of the !Aman Nama sub-tribe, who died in January.

"He should've been awarded a state funeral as he was important to the community, and contributed to the genocide talks," the politician said.

He added that spending on state funerals should reflect the measures being taken due to the government's financial situation.

Muharukua was concerned that government allocated more funding to the 'struggle kids' than to parliamentary committees.

A report released by Mateus Kaholongo from the Cabinet Secretariat, 115 companies received tenders for state funerals from 2016 to early 2018.

The memorial and funeral services were for the late Hidipo Hamutenya, Ya Toivo, Muharukua and Nghidinwa. The government also held a memorial service for former Cuban president Fidel Castro, where nine companies received tenders.

Certain entities such as the City of Windhoek were used to transport the public in all the memorials, while the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation broadcast the services.

Some of the companies proved to be regulars on the state's service provider list for state funerals. Avbob received the tender to provide the casket for Hamutenya, while they also rendered the casket and service for Ya Toivo and Nghidinwa. They also provided transport for Ya Toivo's remains.

The state made use of 26 companies for catering at the memorial and funeral services for Ya Toivo and Nghidinwa, respectively.

Fichtech Investment CC received a catering tender to provide catering items for Hamutenya, Ya Toivo and Nghidinwa.

Flower Love received the tender to provide the wreath for the services of the late Hamutenya, Castro and Nghidinwa.

Freddie Elifas Catering and Accommodation were awarded the tender to accommodate family members of the late Hamutenya and Ya Toivo during the services in Windhoek.

A big chunk of the emergency fund went to the higher education ministry for the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund with N$50 million. The state-owned entity Roads Construction Company received N$42 million in two equal portions in September last year and January this year.

The first N$21 million drawn in September last year was to pay salaries, while the second N$21 million was drawn in January this year to pay salaries for January, February and March.

The education budget vote also received N$1,1 million to pay the salaries of temporary teachers at the College of the Arts.

The 'struggle kids', through the youth ministry, also received N$18 million for their activities, while N$13,7 million of the reserves went towards humanitarian assistance to Cuba.

The ministry of defence received N$12,5 million from the fund for a Southern African Development Community military exercise called Blue Kunene.

A shortfall in vote operations cost the fund N$25 million for fuel and utilities. N$3 million dollars also had to be drawn from the fund for Heroes Day commemorations.

The sports ministry had to turn to the fund for N$500 000 to send a group of Namibian youth to Russia for a festival.

Former attorney general Sacky Shanghala also dipped into the emergency fund, with several consultancy jobs for lawyers.

This includes around N$1,3 million committed from the emergency fund to pay United Kingdom-based lawyers legal fees for the genocide matter. The budget document said the money is yet to be paid to lawyers Dexter Dias and Richard Reynolds. The Office of the Attorney General paid N$750 000 for a settlement payment in connection with paying a consultant who was tasked with reviewing their pension fund.

According to the document, the justice ministry received N$7,4 million to settle a financial consultancy services fee for a company called Valinsight Pty Ltd.


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