Geingob hits back at detractors

Lashes 'loyalists', sycophants in Nujoma house saga

01 April 2019 | Government

STAFF REPORTER



The presidency last week claimed that a third force consisting of so-called “loyalists and sycophants” is trying to build a wedge between former president Sam Nujoma and head of state Hage Geingob.

This follows media reports indicating that the government has spent over N$40 million on renovations to Nujoma’s private house on the outskirts of Windhoek.

The Namibian newspaper earlier reported that the cost of upgrades to Nujoma's house had increased from N$11 million in 2013 to N$34 million in 2014, while some claimed the costs had shot up to N$64 million in 2015.

According to the newspaper, some government officials are questioning the transaction and calling for an investigation into how the cost of the project had increased over two years.

There were also reports claiming that Nujoma’s allies were accusing Geingob’s followers of using the founding president’s name when it suited them, The Namibian reported.

However, the presidency rejected claims that it had forgotten about Nujoma by not providing him with accommodation while his private house was being upgraded.

Nujoma temporarily lived in a posh house belonging to business couple Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun and her husband, Haddis.

“When President Geingob was informed that the founding president was without a place of residency in Windhoek, he went to the founding president and offered him one of the fully equipped presidential guesthouses at State House.

“This was conceded to; however, another offer had already been made, free of charge, by Mrs Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun, which the founding father and former First Lady Kovambo Nujoma had accepted,” said the presidency.

Geingob added that the renovations to Nujoma’s house were already at an advanced stage when he took over as prime minister in December 2012.

“On 14 February 2014, the Cabinet Committee on Defence, Security and International Relations, of which President Geingob was not a member when he was prime minister, took the decision to conduct a feasibility study for major renovations, upgrading of the entire residence for the founding president,” State House said.

“The cost of the upgrades and renovations amounts to N$42 790 565.18. On 16 February 2015, a provisional security clearance was provided to the construction companies that were to execute the work.

“It should be stated that this transpired before President Geingob assumed duty as head of state on 21 March 2015.”

The presidency added that Nujoma was entitled to special benefits, including a house, as provided by the Former Presidents Pension and Other Benefits Act.

“The founding president, by virtue of the Founding Father of the Namibian Nation Act, is accorded special status as an extraordinary personality, and the benefits accrued are considered in that light.

“Premised on this explanation, the matter of the upgrades and renovations of the house of the founding president should be considered as closed,” Geingob’s office said.

‘Loyalists’ blasted

The presidency also attacked so-called “loyalists and sycophants” undermining his relationship with Nujoma, including claims that Geingob did not have the founding president’s support at the last Swapo elective congress.

“President Geingob has always been with the founding father, in the first line of defence, as a ‘bodyguard’. This was at a time when the founding father did not have a coterie of bodyguards.

“What we have is a situation where a matter that should have been easily solved through the attainment of readily available facts has descended into political hearsay and gossip,” the presidency said.

“The president has been aware for a long time that certain individuals have been insistent and resolute in their determination to use each and every contentious issue as a springboard to try to build a wedge between the founding president and President Geingob.”