Ex-ministers resigned to claim pension

By Eliaser Ndeyanale

TWO former cabinet ministers, Stanley Simataa and Alpheus !Naruseb, who resigned from the National Assembly last week allegedly did so to protect their ministerial pensions. The two former Swapo ministers have been parliamentarians for more than 10 years and qualified for lucrative retirement benefits.

Simataa joined Parliament in 2010 as deputy minister of information and communication technology before he was promoted to a ministerial post in 2018 by President Hage Geingob. !Narused became an MP in 1997 and started as deputy minister of fisheries until his promotion in 2008 to a ministerial post by former president Hifikepunye Pohamba.

A parliamentary source said towards the end of last year, MPs were called to the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) and briefed about their pension and benefits, with regard to politicians and other office bearers whose pension funds are managed by GIPF.

“They showed us how much we have accumulated and also explained that if we resign on or before 21 March this is the money we are going to get. I am hearing that if a minister resigns he gets a better package than the ones who stayed in Parliament… if he or she stays in there the contribution will continue but the government’s contribution will be reduced,” the source said.

Confidente understands that !Naruseb, as part of his retirement package is entitled to a lump sum payment equivalent to four months’ salary after his term in Cabinet, that covers both his time as deputy minister and the time he was served as minister, earning nearly N$1,1 million a year.

Simataa will also receive N$600,000 for each term he served in Parliament. This amount to around N$1.2 million, while !Naruseb will get more than N$2.4 million because he had served almost 23 years in Parliament.

A person with knowledge of MPs’ pension benefits said the formula for calculating benefits also applies to Simataa.

This publication further understands that a minister who leaves office after completing two terms – like Simataa who held a ministerial post for ten years – also gets a “loss of office benefit” equal to ten months’ pensionable salary, where the pensionable salary is 50 percent of the total package in place at the time he leaves office.

Had the two former ministers not resigned before receiving their first salaries as MPs last month they would be deemed ordinary Members of Parliament and would not qualify for ministerial retirement benefits. According to the source, pensionable salaries are based on contributions to the pension fund by ministers during their years in office, including as legislators.

Confidente is further informed that long serving Swapo MP Jerry Ekandjo also resigned from the National Assembly in November last year to claim his ministerial pension before the period lapsed.

Asked to explain his resignation, Simataa declined to comment, saying he had already given his reasons for resigning. Asked if his resignation was informed by fear of losing his ministerial pension, !Naruseb said: “I have nothing to comment and couldn’t care less with what people are alleged to be saying.”

A source at GIPF said that it is up to the ministers to decide whether they want to the whole sum at once or to get it in monthly payments. The chairperson of the Public Office Bearers Commission, Judge Sylvester Mainga, was not available when contacted yesterday for further clarification.