10 July 2012

Namibia: Nature Foundation's Troubles Continue

Windhoek — The Labour Commissioner's office in Rundu has instructed the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) to reinstate one of its employees after he was issued with a 24-hour dismissal notice by the donor organisation.

An employee at the Labour Commissioner's office who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed to New Era that they have sent a letter to the NNF instructing the NGO to reinstate Don-Bosco Likuwa, a field officer for the NNF based at Rundu. He said the NNF was yet to respond to the directive.

Approached for comment, Likuwa said he was still in the dark about the issue since nobody had communicated any information to him regarding the matter.

"It is with regret that I write to advise you that your services are hereby terminated with immediate effect, giving you 24 hours' notice as per the terms of your contract," reads the termination letter.

According to the termination notice, Likuwa was put on three months' probation from November 2011 when he started working with the company, which was further extended by another two months, but due to his inability to perform to the required standard, they had to let him go.

The organisation allegedly appointed a Zimbabwean national, a certain Fidelis Mpofu, in Likuwa's place.

According to another NNF employee, who also spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, top NNF managers, who are mostly expatriates, have no respect for Namibians.

"What can people do when our government is not taking charge of these NGOs?" complained the employee.

This is not the first time that the NNF lands in the spotlight over labour and human relations issues. Its former director, Dr Julian Fennesy, not too long ago came under heavy criticism for allegedly employing foreigners at the expense of competent locals.

Fennesy only recently resigned from the organisation for family reasons, but will remain in Namibia and continue to work closely with the NNF.

His sudden resignation has raised more questions, considering the fact that the NNF has recently developed a three-year strategic plan in which he played a key role.

Other employees who spoke to New Era in confidence, charged that Fennessy, who is an Australian citizen, extended the employment contracts of foreign nationals in sharp contrast to those of Namibian employees, which were not renewed when they expired.

NNF employees are demanding that the company employ a local as director or someone from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), instead of a foreign national since locals apparently do not benefit from projects undertaken by the NNF.

The chairperson of the NNF board, Dr Roy Miller, could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.

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