Geingob lashes ‘loyalists’, sycophants in Nujoma house saga
29 March 2019 | Politics
The presidency late last night claimed 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 government spent over N$40 million towards the upgrading of Nujoma’s private house on the outskirts of Windhoek. The Namibian newspaper earlier reported that the cost of upgrades to Nujoma's house increased from N$11 million in 2013 to N$34 million in 2014, while some claimed the costs shot up to N$64 million in 2015. According to the newspaper, some officials in government are questioning the transaction and calling for an investigation on how the cost of the project increased in two years. There are also reports claiming that Nujoma’s allies are accusing Geingob’s followers of using the founding president’s name when it suits them, The Namibian reported. However, the presidency refuted claims that it had forgotten about Nujoma by not providing him with accommodation when his private house was being upgraded. Nujoma was temporarily sheltered in a posh mediterranean property belonging to business couple Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun and her husband Haddis. “When President Geingob was informed that the Founding President was without a place of residency in Windhoek, he went to the Founding President, and offered one of the fully equipped Presidential Guest Houses at State House. This was conceded to, however, another offer had already being made, free of charge by Mrs. Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun, which the Founding Father and Former First Lady, Madam Kovambo Nujoma had accepted,” the said the presidency. Geingob added that he issue of the renovation and upgrading of Nujoma’s house was already at an advanced stage when he took over as prime minister in December 2012. “On 14 February 2014, the Cabinet Committee on Defence, Security and International Relations, of which President Geingob was not a member when he was Prime Minister, took the decision to “conduct a feasibility study for major renovations, upgrading of the entire residence for the Founding President.” The cost of the upgrades and renovations amounts to N$ 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 duties as Head of State on 21 March 2015.” The presidency also added that Nujoma was entitled to special benefits, including a house as provided by the Former Presidents Pension and Other Benefits Act of 2004 as amended in 2012. “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.
Meanwhile, the presidency also attacked so-called “loyalists and sycophants” undermining his relationship with Nujoma, including claims that Geingob did not enjoy 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.”