By Eliaser Ndeyanale
OPPOSITION politicians have come strong in support of their already implemented six percent salary increment adding that even if this money, (about N$270 million for this year) was given to poor Namibians; it still won’t be enough to combat their poverty.
Instead, poor and hungry Namibians have been advised to apply for Government social nets as the increment, which has now gained public interest, will never be enough to “buy food for the entire population”.
These sentiments come hot on the heels of a report that 326 public office-bearers have been enjoying a six percent salary hike approved and implemented last year but only gazette recently.
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) legislator Steve Bezuidenhout defended his pay increment stressing that the six percent is not enough to feed the destitute.
The politician continued to say that the Constitution makes provision on how he can be remunerated and what benefits he is entitled to.
“Are you saying the six percent increment to my salary is enough to feed people who are eating in the dustbins and or at dumpsites? It can’t buy food for the whole population of Namibia,” said Bezuidenhout.
Former Kunene governor and now United Democratic Front parliamentarian Dudu Murorua claimed that he had not been informed officially about this increment, although ironically he has been receiving it since last year.
However, he urged the poor to “apply for a social net from Government,” adding that “I think it (increment) is normal considering the inflation that is going on
When contacted for comment, National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO) leader Asser Mbai only said that the increment is not a new thing.
“It is something that was done 2015/16 only the gazette that is being done now,” he indicated.
United People’s Movement (UPM) president Jan van Wyk questioned why the gazetting of the increment is only taking place now.
“When the increment was announced last year, I am on record questioning why we politicians are getting an increment while crucial votes such as gender do not have enough money,” Van Wyk explained.
“I was told by the deputy chairperson of the whole house committee (Evelyn Nawases-Taeyele) that I was out of order and that was the last of that matter.”
Asked why he did not reject the increment all together when more money was coming into his bank account, Van Wyk responded: “At the time when I was called to order by (Nawases-Taeyele) I never got the support from other members in the house.”
DTA’s Jennifer van den Heever also maintained that her party also questioned the increment last year but justified why her party has not turned down the increment in line of their concerns.
“When you travel across to other countries even those in the SADC region you will see that McHenry Venaani (leader of DTA) is not remunerated on the same scale compared to the other leaders of official opposition parties in those countries,” Van den Heever noted.
“He is the most underpaid leader of an official opposition compared to his peers in the region and it is laughable but be that as it may this six percent is only around N$1 000 to N$1 300 more on his salary.”
She added that her party understands its role and that its politicians are servants of the Namibian people.
“We also have to compete with the ruling party and sometimes we have to go into our own pockets to achieve some of the political programmes we have planned.”
“He (Venaani) must use his own money to get to the electorate and run some other party issues. Our funding is a lot but we have a lot of responsibilities and there is not always enough money in the party coffers.”
Swanu’s leader Usutuaije Maamberua this week said he would not accept the increment but later backtracked on his decision claiming the media misled him to believe there is yet another increment on the cards.
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