Rose-Mary Haufiku and Kandjemuni Kamuiiri

Finance Minister, Ipumbu Shiimi, said the decision to remove value added tax (VAT) on sanitary pads has nothing to do with the motion tabled by Deputy Information Minister, Emma Theofelus, two weeks ago.

He said a decision had already been taken by the Finance ministry in January.

“The removal of VAT on sanitary pads is not in any way linked to Emma Theofelus. It has got nothing to do with her. She brought her issue, but it was already in the budget,” Shiimi told the Windhoek observer .

The revelation by Shiimi comes as Theofelus took credit for having motivated the move by Government to remove VAT on sanitary pads after only tabling the motion on 4 March.

“When we were preparing the budget, we had wide consultations. One of the associations we consulted was the civil society, and during that consultation process, the civil society brought up that issue that we need to consider zero rating VAT on sanitary pads. So it came from there,” Shiimi said.

“In my budget statement, I have actually acknowledged the civil society as a source of that idea,” said he adding that as far as they are concerned, credit must go to the civil society, because they (civil society) are the ones who made the Finance Ministry aware of the issue.

“Whether it was brought there before, it is still a good thing that Namibians bring issues and if they are good, we consider them.”

Amid Theofelus’ claims, the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) Wednesday congratulated its party leader, McHenry Venaani, for his motion becoming a reality. “We welcome the introduction of zero-related tax on sanitary pads as announced by the Minister of Finance today in Parliament. We congratulate the President and Leader of the Official Opposition for yet another milestone. It is because of your staunch advocacy for affordable sanitary pads since 2016 that we have achieved this milestone as a country. It is our belief that we will achieve the vision of Free Sanitary Pads sooner than later because of your leadership,” said PDM Youth League leader, Maximalliant Katjimune.

Venaani on 4 October 2016 tabled a motion for Government to make free provision of sanitary pads to needy girls around the country.

Contacted for comment, Theofelus was evasive. “Your questions are politicising and I don’t want to dwell on that. I would rather want to focus on the win and all the members that helped push this forward.”