10 June 2019

Namibia: Concern At Slow Employment Equity Growth

LABOUR minister Erkki Nghimtina has urged the employment equity commissioner to find innovate ways to speed up realising employment equity in the country.

The minister, who was speaking at the farewell of retiring employment equity commissioner Vilbard Usiku last week, said the slow progress in achieving equity remains a concern to his office.

Citing the latest statistics, which are for the 2017/18 financial year, Nghimtina said only 0,4% employees were persons with disabilities, while 46% of the workforce were women, and 1% non-Namibians.

"White employees accounted for 56% of positions at executive director level, unchanged from the figures in the previous corresponding review periods. No Namibian should be denied any employment opportunity based on discrimination.

"All Namibians should enjoy equal employment opportunities, and the Employment Equity Commission has an oversight function to ensure that this basic and vital principle is effectively enforced and complied with by all employers," he stated.

The minister added that there has, however, been an improved rate of submission of affirmative action reports by employers, as in that review period, the commission received and reviewed a total of 923 affirmative action reports.

A total of 277 745 employees is covered in this period.

"Despite this increase in the number of submissions, I am informed that a significant number of relevant employers are still in hiding. I am also informed that a large number of relevant employers fail to submit reports on time each year. It is a law that all employers of 25 or more employees must submit affirmative action reports annually," Nghimtina added.

He noted that about 60 employers had been brought before the courts for non-compliance with the law, with the non-compliance ranging from non-submissions, late submissions and false information provided to the commission.

Nghimtina said: "These are serious criminal offences in terms of the act, and I implore relevant employers to comply fully with the law. I expect from the new commissioner to address these challenges head-on.

"It is clear from these brief facts that the Employment Equity Commission still faces numerous challenges, and I expect the newly appointed commissioner and his entire team to ensure that the transformation agenda in employment is accelerated."

The newly appointed commissioner is Otniel Podewiltz, who assumed office on 1 April 2019 for a five-year period ending on 31 March 2024.

- charmaine@namibian.com.na; Twitter: Char_Ngatjiheue.

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