28 November 2012

Namibia: NUNW Defends Swapo Congress Delegates List

THE Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting of of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) on November 24 resolved that the federation accept all three Swapo Party vice presidential candidates for the position and mandated its 15-member delegation to the congress “to elect any candidates of their choice”.

The NUNW leadership said it endorses all the nominated candidates as proposed by the Swapo Party Central Committee.

With this explanation given by NUNW acting secretary general, Alfred Angula, the federation tried to squash a suggestion that the last list of delegates to the congress was machinated to make way for supporters of the minister of regional and local government, housing and rural development, Jerry Ekandjo.

Angula further emphasised that the last list was “revived and endorsed” by the CEC, which is the highest decision-making body between congresses.

He said the considerations for the “revived” list were whether the trade union federation members are “in good standing with the party”.

“It is not the unions that go to the congress, but individuals,” Angula said at a press briefing yesterday.

Angula further said that each union had submitted names for the congress, but that each had to be screened to see if they indeed were paid-up members of Swapo, and if they had made their contribution of one percent of their salaries to the ruling party.

Responding to a sentiment that the new list was not fairly representative of all trade unions under the NUNW family, Angula said the biggest trade unions in the federation – the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) and the Namibia National Teachers’ Union (Nantu) – enjoyed preference over others in the final selection of the delegates.

According to the new list, Nantu has two delegates, Napwu four and the NUNW secretariat has three delegates.

But members of Nafinu questioned the absence of NUNW second president Alfred Liswaniso and NUNW vice treasurer Hendrik Wasserfall, who they said were entitled to be automatic candidates to go to the Swapo congress by virtue of their positions in the NUNW.

Further, they said, the latest list was sent to the Swapo Party, while the last CEC meeting was only held on November 24.

The Nafinu members said they had not been to any prior CEC meetings where the new list was approved. Nafinu was suspended at the November 24 CEC meeting, which presumably endorsed the last list of delegates.

“Which unions were at the CEC meeting that endorsed the names?” questioned Samuel Vries of Nafinu.

Nafinu members are further questioning the process through which the union was suspended from NUNW.

Angula said the union was suspended because Nafinu members had “acted against the wishes and aspirations of the NUNW and its aims and objectives”.

“They have acted against the interest of the federation,” Angula said was the resolution of the last CEC meeting.

“We are here to foster unity within and among the unions of the NUNW. Nafinu instigated workers to support an illegal strike. Nafinu operates within the financial sector. It has nothing to do with teachers and public service workers,” Angula said.

Accordingly, the CEC resolution goes, Nafinu general secretary Asnath Zamuee’s representation on the Social Security Commission (SSC) has been withdrawn with immediate effect.

But Zamuee said that since the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare had appointed her to the SSC, the NUNW’s decision to revoke her “is not a big issue”.

Zamuee was nominated by the NUNW to serve on the SSC.

“For us it is business as usual,” Zamuee said, arguing that until the NUNW gave a formal notification of the union’s suspension, the union couldn’t recognise the drastic action, particularly since the union thought that the NUNW secretariat had not followed due processes to push through the suspension.

At best, said Zamuee, the charge against Nafinu was “vague, nonsensical and sporadic”.

“We are not expecting anything from them [NUNW secretariat]. We know the suspension was for other reasons,” Zamuee said.

The NUNW CEC has resolved to strengthen its links and relationships with the Swapo Party “and ensuring that no one should break that historic link”.

In the NUNW secretariat report to the CEC, Angula wrote: “As of now we must be seen as a strong and united force, any individual that wants to bring division within the NUNW must be dealt appropriately. (Either you are with NUNW or against us. No two ways about it!).”

Angula said voices against the affiliation of the NUNW with the ruling party would be defeated at the ballot box as “part of dealing with them”

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