20 March 2019

Namibia: Presidency Rejects MUN Explanation for Being Late

WINDHOEK - The presidency yesterday rejected an explanation by the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) leadership for being late for a meeting scheduled on Monday with President Hage Geingob.

In a statement yesterday, press secretary Dr Alfredo Hengari said the explanation that the union leaders were delayed during the security clearance at State House was totally "incorrect".

"Security clearance for agreed meetings is carried out without delay and in record time," Hengari said, adding that it was also misleading on the part of the media to say that the meeting was cancelled.

New Era reported yesterday that MUN leadership left President Hage Geingob, Vice President Nangolo Mbumba, Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah and other ministers hanging when they failed to show up for a scheduled meeting the union had requested with the Head of State.

Normal practice dictates that visitors wait for the Head of State's arrival in the meeting room.

But on Monday, Geingob accompanied by Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba and some senior members of his Cabinet, was left waiting for at least 15 minutes before being forced to call off the meeting.

"I am sorry, we wasted your time and our time. We are going back to work now," Geingob told the media and ministers after waiting for at least 15 minutes.

At around 10h20 on Monday, the MUN leadership, consisting of its acting president Allen Kalumbu, secretary-general Ebben Zarondo, secretary for the western region Petrus Petrus and others showed up at State House.

This was after Geingob had already adjourned the waiting congregation.

Zarondo told New Era that there was miscommunication from the union's side, which they apologise to.

"What happened is that we asked our secretary to call the office (Office of the President) that we will be running late by at least 10 minutes as we were waiting for our colleagues from Rosh Pinah who were running late. However, for reasons unknown, this was not communicated," he explained.

"We apologised for the inconvenience we may have caused but we will continue to pursue the meeting with President Geingob," he told this paper.

The meeting, presidency yesterday said is to brief President Geingob on the union's National Executive Committee meeting held on 08 March this year, at which it resolved to seek an audience to discuss the leaked audio recording of the Erongo Regional Governor Cleophas Mutjavikua regarding the Swakop Uranium.

Mutjavikua was part of the wage negotiation team at the mine where the workers had downed tools after citing concerns over their safety in light of claims that unchecked explosives and detonators were discovered lying around at the pit.

Mutjavikua was overheard in a voice recording suggesting that the management of the mine cancel the recognition agreement between the mine and the 500 workers who stopped working at the end of February.

National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), the country's biggest federation to which MUN is affiliated, has since called for the resignation of the governor.

However, Mutjavikua speaking to New Era yesterday disputed this saying that he told Husab mine management of the provision in the Labour Act that will enable them to re-organise, instead of going through substantive negotiation.

"I said no one should lose their jobs. I am here running around so that people don't lose their jobs," he said.

Also, in a letter dated 15 March 2019, by Swakop Uranium employees shared by the presidency to the media on Monday, said the MUN leadership did not meet the mandate of the Swakop Uranium employees and thus did not direct the union representatives to meet with Geingob

The letter, with 112 signatures, was addressed to executive director in the presidency Moses Pakote by Swakop Uranium employees.

"Our demands as the direct affected employees [is for] the meeting to be cancelled; [and] the MUN leadership (delegates) to come see the affected employees first before going to meet the Head of State," the letter stated.

But, Zarondo told New Era that he suspects that the letter was part of Swakop Uranium management propaganda.

"Anyway, a 100 signatures by employees does not constitute an employees' decision because the employees are over 1 000," said Zarondo.

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