Tuesday 11 May 2021
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Swapo elders feel poverty pinch

The old brigade of the ruling Swapo Party wants pensioners to be exempted from paying any form of tax, including municipal taxes and lump sum pension pay-outs in order to avoid driving them into destitution.

In a media release circulated recently, Swapo Party Elders Council secretary Mukwaita Shanyengana, bemoaned the current status quo whereby pensioners are taxed the same as those in the prime of their lives, saying it leaves pensioners destitute. Shanyengana said the elders resolved at a meeting held in June that was attended by the party’s acting president Dr Hage Geingob, that: “The 1/3 lump sum be paid out immediately once the staff member retires and the remaining 2/3 monthly pension instalments be exempted from all taxation.  “The SPEC meeting further noted that the municipality (electricity, water) levies are generally exorbitant and in particular are cut-throat expenses for unemployed people – including elderly persons,” said Shanyengana recently when he released the recommendations taken by the elders’ council at its annual central committee meeting held in Windhoek to discuss party and national issues.

Critics of the proposal, however, cautioned that adopting such a proposal might open the door for most Swapo politicians – who are currently past retirement age – especially parliamentarians, to benefit from the proposal if adopted. And, with the ruling party in full control of state affairs, adopting the proposal cannot be ruled out.Shanyengana said currently many elderly people “use their finite retirement pension to pay up balances on their home mortgages, yet they still continue being subjected to municipal assessment rates and taxes”.

He further stressed that the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) takes “unnecessarily too long to pay out the retirement benefit (1/3 lump sum), and worse still the remaining 2/3 monthly pension instalments are heavily taxed, thus, resulting in a drastic reduction in living standards and, consequently, making a pensioner destitute at the time of his/her last days of life.”

Despite welcoming government’s decision to annually increase the pension of the elders by N$l00, he noted “that after retirement from government, elders are forced to fend for themselves while still being paid to contribute to the state coffers through taxes. “SPEC resolved that all senior citizens be exempted from all taxes and assessment rates and issued with special identity cards for access to all basic public services. The meeting thanked the Governor and Municipality of //Kharas, who are already doing it,” said the incumbent advisor to the vice president. At the June meeting, Shanyengana said Geingob explained the Harambee Prosperity Plan and its objectives to the elders.
“He pointed out that the plan is one of the effective ways of fighting against poverty and emphasized on the ideal of inclusivity in the noble effort of building the ‘Namibian House’,” Shanyengana said.

He then urged the elders, as the guardians of culture, to play their meaningful role in safeguarding national unity and therefore peace, security and stability. Without going into much detail, Shanyengana said the elders also deliberated on the youth who were expelled from the party. As for the qualification for SPEC membership, the elders resolved that only existing members of the ruling party should be issued with membership cards. According to SPEC Constitution, any member of the Swapo Party, who attains the age of 50 years, is eligible to join the Swapo Party Elders’ Council and obtain a SPEC Membership Card, upon paying a prescribed fee.

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