Namibia

Official funerals a costly headache…Calls to suspend government-funded burials

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A prominent political commentator urged the government to consider a ban on state and state funerals, as the rise in deaths, mostly attributed to Covid-19, increased authorities’ spending of the allocated budget by NZ$5 million.

Since January this year, the government has spent a total of 6.1 million Namibian dollars on state and state funerals for 52 Namibians.

I think state funerals should be banned and all Covid-related deaths be subject to state burial under Covid-19 regulations. We are in a pandemic that is not normal, which therefore calls for the suspension of some activities such as state funerals.”
Ndomba Kamwaneh.

Only one million Namibian dollars have been set aside for state and state funerals in the current fiscal year. The Executive Director of the Prime Minister’s Office, Ben Nechandi, revealed yesterday, since the new fiscal year, which began in April of last year, that the burial of two identified heroes has cost the government $ 591.28 448, while 11 state funerals have cost 2.75 million Namibian dollars for taxpayers between May and July 2021 only. The government funded state funerals with NZ$2.86 million spent on 39 deceased between July 2020 and July 2021.

“We have a special account where we put 1 million Namibian dollars. There was also money in this account from the last fiscal year. However, that money has already been exhausted.”

Nachande said that due to the high number of Covid-19 deaths, OPM approached the Treasury which transferred 1.5 million Namibian dollars into the account. “We had money (5 million Namibian dollars) earmarked for independence celebrations which has been curtailed due to Covid-19 so we could have money for such landfills. We then asked the Treasury to use that independence celebration funds (NZ$5 million). We will not go back to the treasury to ask for money.”

Although critics have warned over the years against creating a trend for state funerals, saying they can become too dangerous and expensive, last week President Hage Geingob also expressed shock at the rise in deaths due to Covid, saying that even government allocations for state funerals had been exhausted. . .

“I’ve never seen a situation like this before. Let’s hold hands to walk and obey what you’re told to obey. Even the money’s gone for state funerals. We’re reviewing how state funerals are being cut back,” Geingob said last week.

PDM leader McHenry Vinani also supports calls to scale back funerals, saying the majority of honorees are able to afford a dignified burial.

“There is no need for the government to buy coffins for those who have a GIPF pension. People have funeral caps. You can only do state funerals if you can. Honor does not mean spending,” said Vinayni, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Graham. Hopwood The issue is both difficult and sensitive.

Some of the protocol and ceremonial aspects of these funerals can be justified to reduce costs. Ultimately, the main way to reduce such costs is to reduce the Covid death rate as soon as possible by increasing vaccinations and following other health guidelines,” according to Nashendi, given the limited number of 10 people per public gathering in place, noting that the government It also reduced the amount of food, tents and other logistics.

“Now we are using the savings because the champion events and state funerals budget has been exhausted. Due to Covid-19, we have state funerals almost every week unlike in past years.” Under the 2012 National Honor Awarding Act, state, hero, and state funerals are awarded
Persons who have done heroic work for the common good or have made an outstanding contribution or achievement to Namibia, and have been honored as such by the President.

The president has given a number of state and official funerals to strugglers and traditional leaders, most of whom have succumbed to the pandemic in the past two months.

anakale@nepc.com.na