13 March 2019

Namibia: Nevonga Secretive Over Napwu Building

Namibia Public Workers' Union general secretary Petrus Nevonga says he would not disclose the amount of money spent or the names of the companies that constructed the union's new building in Windhoek.

Napwu's new state-of-the-art building is on John Meinert Street in Windhoek West, and is nearly complete.

The tender to build the union's headquarters was given to a joint venture between Babyface Civil, a company owned by businessman Vaino Nghipondoka and a Chinese company China Jiangxi International.

Sources told The Namibian that the cost of the building was about N$30 million.

In an interview with The Namibian last week Nevonga said the cost of Napwu's new building and the companies contracted for the project were not newsworthy.

Nevonga refused to answer questions on the cost of the building and the companies contracted for the project.

His refusal comes a week after construction workers and some local employers led by the Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (Manwu), staged a demonstration against the awarding of government contracts and tenders to Chinese and other foreign-owned companies at the expense of Namibians.

"The construction of our building has nothing to do with your stories. Our members know the cost of the building because we communicate to them through established channels, structures and constituencies. The fact that your newspaper does not know, does not mean that our members also do not know," he said.

Nevonga added that the construction of the Napwu building does not also concern the construction industry and that his union only dealt with civil servants.

"There is information that we communicate to our members through the media, and there is information that we communicate directly through the structures. As far as the construction of our building is concerned, our members are not informed through the media," he said.

The cost of the Napwu building and the companies contracted to work on the project is also not known by the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) secretary Job Muniaro.

Muniaro told The Namibian this week that he only saw the name of Napwu on the building, but he has no information about who is building and who is not building and what is the cost implications.

"To be honest, the federation does not get involved in the businesses of all the unions. They are doing their things. They have their boards of trustees and such things. We only get involved on things that we have a constitutional mandate over, such as the workers' pledge," he added.

When asked if the decision to hire a foreign company (Chinese) to construct the new Napwu offices was a slap in the face against what they have been demonstrating against, Manwu general secretary Justina Jonas said the building was "a private matter".

She said they were only against the awarding of state tenders to foreigners and that they want the government to "lead the way in setting a good example of limiting awarding tenders to foreign companies".

Jonas said she couldn't understand "why Napwu was targeted (by The Namibian) while some leaders and private institutions were also using foreigners to build their buildings".

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