Geingos entitled to significant benefits from the state

Ester Mbathera

Monica Geingos, the widow of late President Hage Geingob, is entitled to significant benefits that will ensure her financial security and well-being.

According to the Former President’s Pension and Other Benefits Act 18 of 2004 Sec 3(1) the surviving spouse is entitled to 75% of the monthly pension, which is exempt from income tax.

Geingos is further entitled to gratuity which is equivalent to a one-year salary for the two terms served.

At the time of his death on 4 February, the late President’s salary was pegged at more than N$2 million per annum

Legal practitioner, Bernard Tjatjara explained that the legislature’s noble intent for enacting that Act is to make provision for payment of pension, gratuity and other benefits to former Heads of State and their families.

“The Pension payable to a surviving spouse is stipulated in Section 3 of the Act. The section expressly states that it must be a monthly pension which is either 75% of the monthly basic salary that the deceased President received immediately before he or she ceased to hold office as President or 80% of the incumbent President’s basic monthly salary, whichever is more,” he said.

Another legal mind, Mbanga Siyomunji added that the money amounts to an annual salary for ten years which is equivalent to two terms.

Section 4 of the same act states that the spouse and dependent children, who are defined as an adopted child or a step-child of a deceased former President, and who is under the age of 21 years, are entitled to the Public Service Medical Aid Scheme (Psemas).

“The Act does not provide for transport, entertainment and other benefits for a spouse of a former President. So, in a nutshell, Monica Geingos will be entitled to 75% of the pension that late President Genghob would have been entitled to as well as Medical Aid and a diplomatic passport,” he said.

The monetary payment will according to the act be paid to a dependent child upon the surviving spouse’s death or she remarries.

When the dependent attains the age of 21 years or dies, this child’s share in the pension payments must be divided and paid in equal shares to any remaining dependent children who are entitled to share in the pension payments.

Siyomunji added that these benefits become payable immediately upon the death of the former president until the date of her death.

“It means Monica Geingos is already entitled to these benefits,” said Siyomunji.

The amount of pension or gratuity paid, and the value of any benefit provided, in terms of the Act is exempt from income tax.

Geingos is further entitled to official accommodation provided for by the state till death or remarriage. For the dependent child, this is only applicable until the dependent dies or the date on which he or she attains the age of 21 years,

Such a house according to the act may be constructed on one or more erven which in total may not exceed an area of 5 000 square metres.

The residence may not exceed a reasonably sized house with five bedrooms, a guest wing with three bedrooms, a study, a swimming pool, two guardrooms and four garages according to the act.

The resident comes with a staff crew consisting of three domestic workers, two gardeners, two cooks, two waiters and two laundry persons.

Although Geingos is entitled to a diplomatic passport, the act does not state whether she is also entitled to the first class air and rail private travel within Namibia as well as first-class international air private travel up to a maximum of four trips per annum, which applies to former first ladies when they accompany their husbands.

The act is further unclear on what would happen to the vehicles to which her late husband was entitled upon retirement.

Geingob was entitled to three vehicles, a Mercedes Benz S500 Series or an equivalent or similar class of motor vehicle, one four-wheel drive station wagon or an equivalent or similar type; and one pick-up truck.

The vehicles would have been permanently at his disposal bearing NAM3 as their registration number plates. The cost of fuel and maintenance of the vehicles would have been carried by the state.

The act also does not make provisions for a security detail for the spouses of former presidents. However, living spouses of former presidents are protected by their husband’s security personnel.

“The security personnel benefits are only applicable to former presidents,” said Tjatjara.

Questions sent to the executive director in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), I-Ben Nashandi, under which the political officer bearers’ human resources matters are handled, were referred to the Office of the President.

The executive director Grace Uushona, in the presidency’s office, referred the questions back to the OPM.

The former first lady did not respond to questions sent to her by the time of going to print.

The Windhoek Observer wanted to know what would happen to the staff members in her former office as well as whether the state had provided her with security.

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