IN an apparent attempt to rid the upcoming Swapo Party congress from any dissenting voices and to ensure a block vote for Swapo Party presidential candidate Jerry Ekandjo, the Namibia Financial Institutions Union (Nafinu) was summarily suspended from the National Union of Namibia Workers (NUNW) on Saturday.
NUNW acting secretary general Alfred Angula would not comment on the issue yesterday, only saying that he would address a media briefing on the matter today.
But outspoken general secretary of Nafinu, Asnath Zamuee, yesterday confirmed that the suspension by the NUNW Central Executive Committee (CEC) was of immediate effect.
The suspension was reportedly the first point on the CEC meeting’s agenda, and Nafinu members were shortly thereafter excused from the meeting.
Nafinu sources said the NUNW secretariat failed to give the union the CEC agenda, which it has to do 21 days in advance. The union reportedly only got the agenda at the day of the meeting.
“Basically it was an ambush,” a source said.
Zamuee said the union has yet to be informed formally, and was given 30 days to appeal against the suspension.
The reason given for the suspension, she said, is an allegation that Nafinu caused division in the NUNW stable by participating in the mass workers’ meeting a few weeks ago. The union was reportedly also accused of instigating teachers to strike.
Nafinu is now suspended from taking part in any NUNW activities.
Zamuee said Nafinu was also accused of supporting deposed secretary general Evilastus Kaaronda and the suspended NUNW president, Elia Manga, at the last NUNW congress in 2010.
A Nafinu member preferring anonymity said the suspension is part of the “dirty campaign” of Minister Ekandjo.
“Our primary mandate is the workers’ interests and therefore cannot be manipulated by politicians,” the union member said.
“The main aim is to target those who they feel is not supporting Ekandjo. There is no basis to say Nafinu is divisive. Only a person who doesn’t understand English will use such a word where it does not fit.”
According to sources the NUNW secretariat has without a mandate changed the list of NUNW representation to the Swapo Party congress.
The first list, which was scrutinised and cleared by the party in October, is said to be more fairly representative of the unions under the NUNW.
It includes Manga (as president of the NUNW), Kaaronda (now fired from the NUNW), Alfred Angula (acting NUNW SG), Basilius Haingura (National Teachers Union of Nantu SG), Dinyando Dinyando (Nantu president), Jessy Nombanzi (president of the Namibia Music Industry Union, NUMIU), Natangwe Ithele (Nafinu deputy national secretary), Shavuka Mbidhi (chairperson of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia, MUN), Foibe Amwaalwa (MUN branch member), Sarafina Kandere (president of Namibia Public Workers Union, Napwu), Rocco Nguvauva (branch coordinator of the Namibia Farmworkers Union, Nafwu), Hendrik Wasserfall (NUNW vice treasurer), Petrus Nevonga (Napwu SG), Albert Liswaniso (NUNW second vice president), and Josefine Shiweda (branch organiser of the Metal and Allied Workers Union of Namibia, Manwu).
But a new list of NUNW representatives to the Swapo congress emerged on November 7 and sent to Swapo secretary general and presidential candidate Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana.
Nafinu members said it is not clear where this list was devised or authorised.
But the names on the second list include Alfred Angula, Job Muriaro (NUNW acting deputy SG), Jacob Nghifindaka (NUNW associated member and reportedly not a worker), Tommy Nambahu (deputy minister of justice and chairperson of Endombo Invest Holding, a company of the NUNW), Sarafina Kandere, Evans Maswahu (first president of Napwu), Gideon Thomas (Napwu general secretary), Petrus Nevonga, Dinyando, Haigura, Kiros Sakarias (GS of the Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union, Nafau), Nombanza of the NAMIU, Mbidi, Amwaalwa, and Shiweda.
This means that four representatives come from the NUNW secretariat, four from Napwu, two from Nantu, two from MUN, and one each from Nafau, NAMIU, and Manwu.
The CEC meeting further took issue with the Labour Resource and Research Institute (LaRRi) for allowing members not within the NUNW stable to attend labour diploma courses offered by LaRRi.
“At this stage NUNW has no proper directives as to how LaRRi should operate and the internal communication between the two is very poor,” the NUNW secretariat report to the CEC meeting stated.
The secretariat report further stated that the appointment of board members to LaRRi is “one of the serious concerns to the NUNW”, and recommended that a new deed of trust of LaRRi or the current date of trust should be changed so that the NUNW could have “full control of [LaRRi’s] research arm”.
The director of LaRRi, Dr Hilma Shindondola-Mote, yesterday said it is unfortunate that the NUNW secretariat does not think it is important for LaRRi to support all workers irrespective of the trade unions they may find themselves in.
Â“We are here to serve all Namibian workers,” said Shindondola-Mote.