The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has leapt to the defence of National Council Chairperson, Margaret Mensah-Williams, after she was accused of using her official vehicle for a private trip to Cape Town,
South Africa, over the festive holiday.
Chief of Investigation and Prosecution in the Directorate of Investigation at the ACC, Nelius Becker, said this week that there is nothing wrong with a minister or political office bearer to use a Government vehicle for vacation purposes.
Mensah-Williams was in Cape Town on holiday with a Namibian Government vehicle, along with her family.
The National Council Chairperson’s trip was exposed on social media, where her official vehicle was spotted in Cape Town along the Atlantic seaboard.
This, Becker said, is nothing odd as per Cabinet rules on official vehicles.
“If this is indeed a vehicle utilised by a political office bearer, which I am in the process of establishing, then he/she can utilise it for vacation purposes as well. If it is the vehicle of a minister or political office bearer, then there is nothing wrong with it. All that remains to be considered is who was utilising the car at the time.
“Cabinet Rules on Official Vehicles state: ‘There is no restriction on the use of official vehicles for private purposes and no prohibition concerning the use of these vehicles during vacation or any other period of leave, provided that if an official vehicle is used for private purposes, it must be done with discretion so that no embarrassment is caused to Government,” Becker said on his social media page.
People close to Mensah-Williams said she was authorised to use the vehicle because she had two official engagements in Cape Town and does not receive a Government vehicle allowance.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Willem Goeieman, however, told the Windhoek Observer that Government leaders are only supposed to use State-issued vehicles ‘for official duties’ only.
“You are posing a question that is really stimulating my interest. They are only supposed to use them for official duties and not for holidaying or transporting members of their families,” Goeieman said.
Political analyst and Deputy Director at the University of Namibia’s Centre for Professional Development and Teaching and Learning, Ndumba Kamwanyah, said holidaying in foreign countries while transporting family members should not be allowed.
“I am not sure about her terms of conditions [of service] whether she is allowed to travel with her assigned Government car to foreign countries. But what I know is that as long as the car has a GRN number plate it must be used like all Government cars no matter the status of the assignee.
“This means that the car must strictly be used for official duties not for personal gain. Holidaying in foreign countries; transporting materials to one’s farm or transporting family members to the village are off limit.
“It is true that she may have had an official engagement in Cape Town, but the timing being during the festive season is suspect. I am talking under correction, but I understand that she went there with her two bodyguards and a driver. So, it is fair to ask if they were paid travelling allowances since they were on duty. Why take your family along if the trip was strictly official?
“So, the whole thing begs a lot of questions. The right and transparent thing to do is for the Honourable to set the record straight in clear terms. What were those official engagements? When were they organised? Why is that it was only her that needed to attend, but not her other colleagues? Under what terms were her family members brought along?”
Attempts to engage Mensah-Williams proved futile, as she did not respond to messages sent to her mobile phone.