Windhoek — The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) has blamed the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration for the looming job losses in the mining industry.
MUN Southern Region chairperson Allen Kalumbu said the Department of Immigration selection board is dishing out work permits to expatriates without proper scrutiny and this has contributed to the possible 1,800 jobs losses in the mining industry.
"We have engaged Home Affairs on several occasions - we wrote letters to the [ministry] permanent secretary to advise them on the matter but all this has fallen on deaf ears," said Kalumbu yesterday when speaking to New Era. He said the Department of Immigration is issuing work permits to drillers and operators from foreign countries, which is very upsetting. "Home Affairs is getting advice from the Chamber of Mines which was formed by employers. Employers want foreigners because they are easy to control and this is what has been happening," he said.
"The issuing of work permits without proper scrutiny of whether we really need foreigners in those positions has brought us to where we are today - this is leading to our young Namibians sitting at home with their qualifications," he said. Kalumbu called upon the appointing authority to immediately dismantle the current immigration selection board.
Furthermore, Kalumbu called on the ministry to consider revoking the work permit of the chief executive officer of African Tantalum, Johnson Freeman.
He said Freeman's work permit was approved on 15 November 2016 for 24 months on condition that a Namibian understudy be appointed and take over upon expiry of the given permit.
However, he said, this has not happened and his work permit has since been extended for another two years.
"Mr Johnson has refused to appoint the understudy in his position as CEO and opted to retrench a qualified mining manager who was appointed as understudy for the last two years," said Kalumbu.
"This is a violation of the Immigration Control Act and cannot be condoned," he added. He said the CEO position occupied by Freeman can easily be occupied by a Namibian without the process of understudy.
"Namibians are not granted fair opportunities ... and we cannot support that," said the vocal unionist.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration last month said it issued 6,408 work visas and 37,820 temporary work visas during the last financial year.