Kuugongelwa-Amadhila defends luxury ministerial fleet

09 Jun 2019 12:50pm
WINDHOEK, 09 JUN (NAMPA) – Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has rubbished a proposal by Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani to have ministers’ cars slashed from three to one to cut costs as the country’s economy continues to teeter.
Venaani at a press conference on Thursday criticised the perks of politicians, which include sedans and SUVs “while the masses are left in poverty and without basic services”.
He called on the government to sell off at least two of the three cars allocated to each minister and deputy minister.
The proceeds from these sales should then be redirected to pertinent national needs such as the prevailing drought situation, he argued.
In an interview with Nampa recently, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila also quashed insinuations that her motorcade - composed of three Mercedes Benzes and two traffic cars - is too large and gratuitously expensive, for a leader of a small country like Namibia.
“I cannot agree that he (Venaani) must prescribe specific actions as to what specific area to reduce from for any programme of government that has been proposed to have credibility,” she said.
She disputed Venaani’s view that government resources would be better off should ministers’ cars as well as that of the vice president, former presidents and prime ministers’ motorcades be reduced.
“For him as a leader of an opposition party that makes up less than 5 per cent, can he also justify the package he’s getting? If he wants to go that way, how does he justify what he is getting himself considering the proportion of the people he represents, the number of votes he got in order to get to Parliament,” she charged.
Venaani indicated that he was willing to surrender all his benefits, including his N.dollars 12 000 entertainment allowance if government is serious about austerity measures.
At present, ministers and their deputies have three cars and two drivers-cum-bodyguards assigned to them. The cars include a Toyota 4x4 double cab pick-up, a Mercedes-Benz E-Class and a Volkswagen Polo sedan.
The Mercedes-Benz vehicles cost taxpayers around N.dollars 14.8 million in 2013, it was reported.
The cars come with an unlimited and seemingly uncontrolled fuel card, a situation Venaani described as “the greatest white collar-crime committed in post-independent Namibia”.
This assertion too was discredited by the premier, who added that a lot of factors were taken into account prior to the acquisition and allocation of the cars in question.
“Ministers have one sedan and an off-road vehicle for terrain where sedans are not suitable. So when you say a minister must get one car, are we saying one sedan car that would break three times a year because it is being driven on tough terrains or are you saying one large vehicle that is more fuel-consuming in areas where you can use a smaller car that would be more fuel efficient?” she asked.