20 Sep 2019 11:30am
OTJIWARONGO, 20 SEP (NAMPA) - Otjozondjupa Governor Otto Ipinge has cautioned pensioners against vendors who allegedly take advantage of them at pay-points when they receive their monthly grant.
Speaking at the official launch of the Food Bank programme for Otjozondjupa at Otjiwarongo on Wednesday, where nearly 300 pensioners were also present, Ipinge said his office is disturbed to see the vendors follow the vehicles around that serve as mobile payment units for the pensioners.
The governor said he has spoken to pensioners who told him they do not see their pension money as they just hand it over to the vendors.
Ipinge also claimed that the products sold to the vendors are cheap, substandard items which they buy from local shops and add huge mark-ups to.
They buy shoes, portable radios, blankets and torches and sell them, even on credit, at triple the original price, he said.
He also called on the Namibian Police Force to conduct patrols at pension pay-points to provide security on pay days.
The monthly government grant for pensioners is N.dollars 1 300.
Several pensioners who spoke to Nampa on condition of anonymity on Wednesday said they owe vendors up to N.dollars 4 000.
We survive on credit. We pay them when we receive our grants and borrow again in order to survive, they said.
The Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfares Chief Public Relations Officer, Lot Ndamanomhata in an interview with this news agency Thursday said the issue of vendors flooding the pay-points is a serious concern that needs attention from both the local and regional councillors who identify the points where pay-outs are done.
As the ministry responsible for these social grants we are really concerned because these businesspeople are exploiting pensioners, he said, adding that they have received numerous complaints on the matter from all 14 regions.
Ndamanomhata said the ministry's regional offices conduct regular outreach programmes for pensioners to raise awareness of how they can be more prudent with their money.
I think in future lawmakers should look into changing the Pension Act of 1992, Act No. 10, which regulates pension matters, so that restrictions on how much a pensioner should spend on credit, alcohol and food become clear in the Act. There are some pensioners who go hungry the day after receiving their money, which is sad, he said.