By Ndapewoshali Shapwanale
The recent state funerals of Ondonga king Elifas Kauluma and veteran journalist and poet Mvula Ya Nangolo this past weekend have brought the funding of state funerals under the spotlight again as questions regarding the accountability around the funds have re-surfaced.
The National Preparatory Committee on Events chaired by Secretary to Cabinet, George Simataa, is responsible for the organisation of different government events including state funerals.
State funerals were allocated N$1 million for the 2019/2020 fiscal year.
The committee has in the past been criticised for not accounting for the funds they are entrusted with and also that they emrich themselves or those close to them by handing out tenders such as catering services.
A source in the know of the operations during state funerals organising, said that state funerals have become a cash cow especially through the inflation of invoices. The source said that a number of the service providers are known for increasing their normal prices by as much as 100%. “There is a going rate in the events management business, but if someone has to take the invoices submitted by many of these service providers, you will see that the prices are increased. The service providers will keep on doing that because they are not asked questions, they are just paid,” the source said.
Despite funds being allocated for state funerals, The Patriot understands that families at times financially struggle with the organisation of the funerals.
A source who attended the memorial service for the late Mvula said that the family had to run around and commit financially, despite the veteran journalist being accorded a state funeral. A long-time family friend who was also part of the arrangements said that there was a lot of confusion around the funding process, especially when it came to the memorial services.
“All funerals come with their own strains and it is just strange that the family of someone who was accorded a state funeral must be running around. Where does the money go?” the family friend asked. The Office of the Prime Minister did not respond to questions sent to them at the start of this week regarding the accountability of the funds allocated for the funerals. The office said that they will need more time to attend to the questions that included the procurement of services procedure as well as the accountability process that is followed to make sure that the funds that were allocated for the funerals.
The Patriot last year reported that a group of individuals involved in the committee’s activities obtain quotations from a list of preferred suppliers who then subcontract services from other suppliers.
It was further reported that this happens mostly in the catering section of organising as well as with the provision of chairs, tents and catering services.
The catering subcommittee head Foibe Fillipus who has previously been accused of improper governance of her section has allegedly again found herself in the line of questioning after she was allegedly seen carrying boxes of vegetables to her vehicle during King Kauluma’s funeral.
Fillipus refused to answer any questions, stating that she is not the head of the planning committee, “Simataa is” and that she will not comment on the allegations or any questions. She further said that she could not have taken food to her vehicle because she flew to the north.
She said that The Patriot should refer to the previous reports as the newspaper has already written about the matter.
She further said that she does not care what the reporter writes.
The Patriot last year reported that the amounts paid for tents that were sourced for liberation icon Herman ya Toivo’s memorial raised eyebrows.