13 November 2012

Namibia: Division Emerges in Striking Teachers' Ranks

Photo: Justin Moresco
Students learn on their own at Saint Thomas Aquinas Secondary School while thousands of teachers are on strike in Ghana.

STRIKING teachers are divided over whether to continue with their illegal strike after Swapo coerced some of the committee leaders into declaring their loyalty towards the party over the weekend.

The suspended Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu) Khomas regional chairperson, Dankie Katjiuanjo, during a secret meeting with Swapo Member of Parliament Elifas Dingara, was asked to declare his loyalty to the party, and told that the strike was "compromising the interests of the party".

Katjiuanjo, who was also asked to convince the teachers to accept the increase and return to work, yesterday told the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) that the strike was "suspended".

This was allegedly done without the agreement of the teachers and the rest of the committee members.

The committee yesterday rejected Katjiuanjo's announcement, maintaining that "the strike continues".

Without denying being present at the meeting with Dingara, Katjiuanjo yesterday told The Namibian that "Swapo is the ruling party and there is nothing wrong for us if we go to Swapo for advice".

"The strike has been suspended for now because we saw that we were going nowhere and government was not willing to talk to us because the strike was illegal. We are going back to Nantu and to do things the legal way. The teachers have all been informed about this decision," Katjiuanjo said.

Since learning about the secret meeting between Dingara and Katjiuanjo, the striking teachers and the remaining committee members have become suspicious of Katjiuanjo and have resolved to exclude him from their plans with the strike, which has now entered its third week.

Mikka Ndadi, one of the committee members, yesterday said that Katjiuanjo's announcement did not have the support of the teachers and they suspected he might have been bribed.

"The strike continues countrywide. Katjiuanjo made that announcement in his personal capacity for his personal benefit because we suspect promises have been made to him," Ndadi said.

But Katjiuanjo had a different take on it.

"Those people are not representing the teachers. At what meeting were they elected to represent the teachers and how many people voted for them?" he said about the committee he headed for two weeks.

Ndadi said that the government was trying to bribe the leaders of the striking teachers, "thinking that once the leadership is taken care of, this will weaken the strike".

Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna) has requested the teachers to go back to work as soon as possible.

Tucna's request came after the Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN), which falls under Tucna, publicly threw its weight behind the strike two weeks ago.

TUN president Mahongora Kavihuha yesterday said his union would continue supporting the teachers in whatever decision they made.

"The teachers should decide themselves. Whatever Tucna is saying is their own business. The teachers are mature enough to decide for themselves what is right or wrong. We as TUN will be guided by the demand of the masses. If they decide to continue with the strike, we will stand by them, and if they decide to go back to school, we will support them. It should be their own decision," he said.

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