Nujoma turns down 90th birthday bash amid recession: Presidency

29 Mar 2019 16:50pm
WINDHOEK, 29 MAR (NAMPA) – Founding President Sam Nujoma has turned down an offer from the government to hold a national birthday party when he turns 90 on 12 May, citing economic reasons.
Nujoma said the money intended for his birthday should be redirected to other pressing national needs instead.
This was revealed by presidential spokesperson, Dr Alfredo Hengari in a statement issued on Thursday.
“Government had planned to organise in May 2019 the 90th birthday celebrations for the founding president. But due to the founding president’s sense of frugality, the founding president indicated that in light of the prevailing economic conditions and the drought, it would be best not to spend government resources for a birthday celebration,” Hengari said.
In the same statement, Hengari also explained the costs pertaining to renovations to Nujoma’s private residence which have made the rounds in the local media in recent weeks.
Local daily The Namibian reported that Government spent around N.dollars 43 million on upgrading Nujoma’s house.
Hengari indicated that the renovation and upgrading of the house was a project that incumbent President, Hage Geingob found at an advanced stage, even before he became Prime Minister for the second time in December 2012.
He added that on 14 February 2014, the Cabinet Committee on Defence, Security and International Relations, of which Geingob was not a member when he was Prime Minister, resolved to conduct a feasibility study for major renovations and the upgrading of Nujoma’s entire residence.
“The cost of the upgrades and renovations amounts to N.dollars 42 790 565. On 16 February 2015, a provisional security clearance was provided to the construction companies that were to execute the work,” he said.
Hengari reiterated, further distancing Geingob from the project: “It should be stated that this transpired before President Geingob assumed duties as Head of State on 21 March 2015.”
He went on to explain that in 2005, Parliament enacted Act 16 of 2005, the Conferment of Status of Founding Father of the Namibian Nation Act.
“The Founding President by virtue of the Founding Father of the Namibian Nation Act is accorded special status as an extraordinary personality, and the benefits accrued are considered in that light. Premised on this explanation, the matter of the upgrades and renovations of the house of the Founding President should be considered closed,” Hengari said.