No immediate amendments or alterations will be made to the Presidential Remuneration and other Benefits Bill currently before the National Council after being passed by the National Assembly in March this year. The Bill was referred to the National Council on March 16, while the first reading was on May 9 and the second on May 10.
The Bill seeks to increase the remuneration of the president and spouse, as well as create provisions for the remuneration of the recently created vice-president and spouse and revised medical aid for the four. The National Council was caught in a deadlock on the interpretation on whether the president can have more than one spouse as per customary law, leading to National Council Chairperson Margaret Mensah-Williams advising that clarity was needed from a lawyer before the Bill was passed.
However, the Bill was passed for a third reading scheduled for tomorrow, but will first go through a committee stage today.
“After consultations this morning, members are clear and therefore will not seek amendments,” Mensah-Williams told New Era yesterday.
“The issue of customary marriage will be dealt with at a different stage when a bill will be tabled to recognise customary marriages.” This now means that when the National Council is done, the Bill will be referred back to the National Assembly Speaker Peter Katjavivi, who will announce its return to the lawmakers in that House before sending it to President Hage Geingob for signature into law and gazetting.
During the National Council debates Swapo MPs felt that Geingob is – in the context of the remuneration of other African presidents – underpaid, and urged the legislature to review the president’s salary.
Others argued that a president, vice-president and their spouses should be remunerated according to their workload, while it is the belief of some that a good salary for the two families equates to improving the living conditions of poor Namibians.
One indicated that when a president and public office-bearers are paid well it contributes to the fight against corruption in public office.
It is the belief of some in the National Council that the first and second families should always look presentable and decent, especially in front of the international community, therefore their remuneration and benefits should be befitting.
During a press conference at State House on December 14 2015, President Geingob – responding to journalists’ questions – said he did not know how much he earned, but maintained he was receiving much less than the N$2 million per annum reported in the local media.