By law, any Namibian citizen who has reached the age of 60 and resides in Namibia has the right to register for and receive the state pension.
However, questions have been raised whether it is morally justifiable for politicians who earn enormous salaries to claim a benefit largely meant for the poor.
Even fellow ministers have expressed shock and disappointment with some of their colleagues who claim the old age pension whilst they are still employed by the Government.
Investigations revealed that the issue was even debated in Cabinet, more than once.
In an interview, Minister of Defence Nahas Angula said he did not believe that any minister who earned a salary from Government would also receive the old age pension.
“In my understanding it is not correct that a person should receive two cheques from the same Government, and it does not mean that just because people are entitled to receive something they should claim it.
“Others might not agree with me, but in my view it is unethical that someone who has not yet retired claims that money.
“I have no qualms with those who no longer work and claim old age pension, but only with those who receive a salary,” Angula said.
The defence minister said he had not registered to receive the N$600.00 and that even after retirement it was not something he intended to benefit from unless he decided to donate his portion to his church or a charity of his choice.
“What will I do with that N$600.00 really? That’s the value of a goat, and I could just as well sell a goat if I need that money that badly.
“This money should go to the less fortunate citizens of this country,” Angula added.
However, Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Charles Namoloh admitted to receiving the old age pension money. He stated that it was his constitutional as well as birth right to claim the money.
“I am entitled to receive that pension and one cannot just say because I am a minister I should not claim. I don’t know when I will be told to go home.
“I don’t see why I should not receive the money as somebody who has worked, and still works, when there are others who receive that pension who have never worked in their lives,” Namoloh said.
The minister said there was nothing greedy about receiving the pension and that unless parliament amended the law he did not see why he should not claim.
“There was a similar argument when it came to receiving the benefits from the Ministry of Veterans Affairs.
“People felt that as ministers some of us should not take the N$50,000 even though we were the ones who actually fought for this country.
“Then there are those who received the veterans money who did nothing more than cross the border and wait for someone to feed them,” he said.
The moral dilemma that the national leaders face does not only stem from the fact that they receive salaries and still claim the N$600.00, but also that they will benefit three-fold when they retire.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare pays out the old age pension that any citizen past the age of 60 is eligible to receive.
In addition to that, politicians receive another pension from the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) when they retire and then a third cheque from the Ministry of Veterans Affairs.
Retired public office bearers receive a pension paid out by GIPF every month for the rest of their lives – an amount the fund calculates based on their terminal salary and the number of years they served in Government or parliament.
Politicians have been accused of greed considering that they receive a retirement package in the form of the GIPF pension, the veteran’s pension, and should they choose to register, also receive the N$600.00 old age pension.
In an interview on Thursday, Minister of Veterans Affairs Nickey Iyambo, who has reached the age of 60, said he did not receive the N$600.00 pension money and would not claim it for as long as he has employment.
“Why should I claim that money if I still receive a salary. At retirement, I will look at my income and my commitments and then decide whether I need the money to supplement my income,” Iyambo said.
He said people should not focus on ministers alone, but anyone in society who earned above a certain amount and that Government should implement a law to introduce a means test to qualify for a state pension.
“There a doctors and lawyers who make triple what we do as ministers and by law they are also eligible for the state pension.
“Therefore, we should amend the law and introduce a cut-off point for people with sufficient personal wealth, in my view,” he said.
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Loide Kasingo, who turned 60 this year, would not confirm or deny whether or not she receives the old age pension, but had the following to say about the debate.
“I feel that for those MPs who still serve, irrespective of position, that money should be left for those with a really low income, or no income to claim.
“I know of retired MPs who were legally entitled to get the money, but declined; it varies from person to person,” Kasingo said.