Ten politicians serving on Walvis Bay Municipal Council will smile all the way to the bank, as they recently approved hefty increases to their monthly allowances, running into millions of dollars annually, as well as adding a new transport allowance for political office-bearers.
The approval is said to have been effected at the last council meeting and comes hot on the heels of about 150 workers threatening to down tools over unfair labour practices, outstanding back-pay, lack of housing, delayed salary negotiations and alleged corruption at Walvis Bay Municipality.
In a memorandum received by the municipality’s finance department on September 2, acting human resources manager Jan Kruger wrote to chief executive officer (CEO) Muronga Haingura, informing him that the power to increase the allowance packages was delegated to the CEO by council.
CEO Haingura yesterday refused to comment, saying: “Where did you get that letter? That is a confidential letter and I’m not willing to comment on a confidential letter in public.”
Walvis Bay Mayor Immanuel Wilfred yesterday denied any and all knowledge of the memorandum or any increases to councillors’ remuneration packages, despite the fact that the memorandum to the CEO proposing the hefty increases, dated August 30, 2016, bears his signature.
Wilfred will now – at minimum – cost the town’s residents over half a million Namibian dollars per year. His new monthly allowance amounts to N$31 327, excluding an N$18 000 (N$1 500 per month) allowance for cellphone use and N$82 005 a year (N$6 833 per month) in transport allowances.
Councillors are paid sitting fees, which have also been substantially increased. Council meetings are held on the last Tuesday of every month, while management committee (MC) meetings are usually held before council meetings. This translates into Wilfred getting an additional N$20 504 and N$13 667 per year, respectively.
The amount excludes the cost of attending special or extra-ordinary MC meetings, for which he will now be paid N$1 138 per session, as well as N$740 per day for any informal meeting he attends in the area.
His deputy, Hilka Erastus, will be paid N$25 834 per month as fixed monthly allowance, as well as N$1 500 for cellphone use and N$5 694 transport allowance. Erastus and all councillors will receive the same amounts as the mayor for attending various meetings.
The council will spend about
N$26 000 a month on chairperson of the MC Tobias Nambala, whose signature is also on the said memorandum, recommending the increases.
His transport allowance is set at N$6 264 per month. The other allowances for phone use and transport are the same for all 10 politicians.
According to the leaked memorandum, MC members Paulus Kauhondamwa and Ndishoshili Nghilumbwa will receive N$23 088 per month in fixed allowances, while alternate MC member Saara Shailemo will be paid N$20 779 a month. All three politicians will receive N$5 124 in transport fees, apart from the said sitting and cellphone allowances.
The other five ordinary councillors will receive N$18 700 as an allowance and N$4 555 for transport per month, as well as a monthly cellphone allowance of N$1 500.
In the August 30 memorandum Kruger explained that the last increase was in 2013 and that the remuneration package did not compensate elected office-bearers appropriately. He argues that this is due to the fact that they have to take unpaid leave from their places of work and make use of own or public transport to attend municipal activities.
He requested that the remuneration package and increases in councillors’ allowances be approved retrospectively from July 1 this year.
Despite the mayor denying any knowledge of it and the CEO declining to elaborate, sources familiar with the goings-on at Walvis Bay Municipality told New Era that the increases have already been approved.