There is currently no law that provides for the remuneration of the vice president, but that will soon be a thing of the past, as the presidency prepares to table the Presidential Remunerations and Other Benefits Bill.
Taxpayers are currently in the dark regarding the exact salary of Vice President Dr Nickey Iyambo – after almost a year in the job.
Last year The Namibian newspaper quoted Presidential Affairs Minister Frans Kapofi as saying the VP earns 10 percent more than the prime minister. The PM currently earns over N$1,2 million per year, including benefits.
The National Assembly in recent newspaper adverts indicated that the Bill is one of 40 that will be tabled during the third session of the sixth parliament, which was opened by President Hage Geingob on Tuesday.
Kapofi said the Bill is not intended to make any adjustments to Geingob’s salary, but rather to create a legal framework for the vice president’s salary. Right now he is being paid using other provisions of the law, Kapofi explained, adding that: “It should be included in the presidential provisions.”
The creation of the position of vice president came about as a result of the 2014 Constitutional amendments.
“The Bill is just to provide for the [Constitutional] changes that took place, not necessarily in terms of money, but rather how it should be done,” Kapofi said.
Last year the leader of the official opposition, McHenry Venaani, castigated the executive for according the vice president a salary that was not approved by parliament and questioned the legal basis on which the VP is being paid and how his salary was arrived at.
“The vice president has been in office for more than a month, but we have not seen any bill to approve his salary. You are sleeping on the job,” Venaani said last April during the budget debate in the National Assembly on the presidential vote.
The Presidential Remuneration and Other Benefits Bill deals particularly with remuneration payable to the president and the first lady.
Clause 2 of the Bill states that in terms of the Public Office Bearers Commission Act, remuneration and benefits of a person holding the office of VP is fixed at a rate of 15 percent above the remuneration and benefits currently payable to the prime minister.
The Bill also looks at a monthly allowance payable to the presidential spouse, which is equal to the monthly remuneration payable to a deputy permanent secretary in the public service, which is in the region of N$611 582.
The current law makes provision for the remuneration, benefits and allowances paid – as well as the value of any benefit relating to medical aid received by the president – to be exempted from income tax.
All former presidents are covered by the State’s medical scheme after retirement, receive a furnished official residence in Windhoek, are eligible for telephone, water and electricity allowances, and have domestic workers, gardeners, cooks, waiters and laundry persons. They also receive vehicles, for which the cost of fuel and maintenance is borne by the State.
Geingob has on several occasions noted that Namibia is a trendsetter on the continent, considering the fact that the government takes care of former presidents and because of the sound relationship between the current president and his predecessors.
In some African states it is rare for serving governments to take care of former heads of State, mainly due to internecine squabbles surrounding the political transition process.