Politicians account for much more than 0.06% of Govt wages

During his State of the Nation (SONA) speech in the National Assembly chamber on 17 April 2019, President Hage Geingob made the following statements:

“However, contrary to popular belief, the Total Wage and Benefits of Political Office Bearers represents N$160 million out of the 29 billion Namibian Dollar Wage Bill. Said differently this is 0.06 percent of the Public Service Wage Bill, including both houses of Parliament.”

The President was referring to state spending on the wages and benefits of public office-bearers, who are sometimes also referred to as political office-bearers.

In a news report on Friday, 28 June 2019, presidential spokesperson Alfredo Hengari also appeared to downplay the cost to the state of public office-bearers.

What we have found is:

  • N$160 million is not 0.06% of N$29 billion, but rather about 0.6%;
  • Despite requesting how the N$160 million was arrived at or calculated, the presidency has failed to respond to our information request, even while having acknowledged receipt of the request;
  • According to our calculations, based on Proclamation No. 4 in Government Gazette No. 6259, of 10 March 2017 – which set the remuneration and benefits of public office-bearers, the president and vice-president (as well as the two former presidents) – the state appears to spend about N$280 million annually on public office-bearers (excluding the two former presidents);
  • N$280 million, which is about 75% more than the N$160 million figure mentioned in SONA 2019, would amount to almost 1% (0.96%) of government’s total wage bill;
  • It is hard to determine the exact spending on public office-bearers as such spending is not disaggregated from overall wages and benefits spending in the National Budget or individual budget votes.

The Public Office-Bearers (Remuneration and Benefits) Commission Act (No. 3 of 2005) defines a public office-bearer as:

“(a) a Member of Parliament and includes a member of a Regional Council;
(b) any person who the President has, by proclamation in the Gazette, declared to be a public office-bearer.”

It should be borne in mind that the figures and calculations do not include local level political or public office-bearers, which if included could push the total cost to government of politicians to well over 1% of the wage bill.

The president’s reference to the figures appears on page 16 of the 2019 State of the Nation speech, which can be accessed at the following link:

In order to see which offices and positions have been declared public office-bearers, view Proclamation No. 4: Determination and announcement of remuneration and benefits of Public Office-bearers, President, Vice-president and Former Presidents: Public Office-bearers (Remuneration and Benefits) Commission Act, 2005 and Namibian Constitution at the following link: http://www.lac.org.na/laws/2017/6259.pdf

2nd July 2019

Martha Nangolo

Martha Nangolo is a researcher for Namibia Fact Check and a research associate of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)