Naholo Axed from NUNW

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK DOUBLE tragedy hit the head of the secretariat of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), Peter Naholo yesterday. On Wednesday, a special central committee meeting of the union resolved to revoke the mandate they gave him to act as secretary general. Again yesterday, the union reported a case of unauthorised use of the union’s vehicle against Naholo. New Era is reliably informed that Naholo did not surrender the union’s vehicle because he did not accept the decision to remove him from the position. NUNW 1st Vice President, Alpheaus Muheua confirmed that the union had engaged the services of the police because Naholo refused to surrender the union’s property. He cited the car and cell phone as two items that Naholo had to surrender. At the time of going to press, it was not clear whether the property had been recovered. While this is the case, the affiliated unions appear to be split on the decision. The Namibia National Teachers’ Union (NANTU) under the leadership of Miriam Hamutenya said it was not party to the decision and no other affiliate had the right to make decisions on its behalf, labelling what has happened as “divide and rule tactics”. At a press conference yesterday, Muheua announced the union had removed Naholo from his position for distancing the federation from a press statement sent out by the body’s affiliates, which rallied behind Swapo President Sam Nujoma’s account of the events of April 1, 1989. The unions said the workers of Namibia were aware of the violation of the United Nations Resolution 435 by the then South African apartheid regime. The resolution to remove Naholo was taken Wednesday afternoon by two thirds of the affiliates, according to Muheua. He said in terms of clauses of its constitution, it had resolved to “withdraw its mandate given to Mr Peter Naholo to act as acting Secretary General with immediate effect”. Muheua said in the presence of the leadership of some of the union affiliates that Naholo was no longer allowed to conduct any activities or business in the name of the NUNW, as of yesterday. The same meeting appointed Evirastus Kaaronda, who is the Deputy Secretary General to act in Naholo’s position with immediate effect. What landed Naholo in hot water is a statement he wrote to the union president Risto Kapenda, NUNW office-bearers and affiliate national executive committee members. Naholo said he was surprised by the fact that after writing letters to the affiliates for wider consultations, the affiliates went ahead and issued the statement. “It is in view of the above that I as the Acting Secretary General of the NUNW regard your statement in the newspapers on the discoveries of the mass graves and the 1st April 1989 mass killings as premature and tantamount to the abuse of the NUNW’s name,” Naholo distanced the NUNW from the statement. NANTU yesterday said it was not consulted and was not invited to the meeting, hence “no one has the right to make decisions on our behalf and we reject that decision”, said Miriam Hamutenya, NANTU’s Secretary General. Hamutenya called what was happening political mudslinging, which her union was not prepared to enter into because it was involved with teacher issues and not political issues. Muheua added that what Naholo wrote in the press statement “were his own words and his own decisions and not those of the NUNW”. The central committee meeting was, according to Muheua, attended by two thirds of the affiliates. NUNW has nine affiliates, namely, the Namibia Art and Music Industry Union (NAMIU), Namibia National Teachers Union (NANTU), Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (NATAU), Namibia Public Workers Union (NAPWU), Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN), Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (NAFAU), Namibia Farm Workers Union (NAFWU), the Namibia Financial Institutions Union (NAFINU) and the Namibia Metal and Allied Workers Union as well as the Namibia Domestic Workers Union (NDAWU). Technically, NUNW has nine affiliates because NAFWU and NDAWU merged. Of the nine, NAMIU, NANTU and NAFWU did not attend the meeting. Muheua said although NAFWU did not attend the meeting, it was party to the decision. The chairperson of the CEC is Risto Kapenda but Muheua chaired it. NUNW affiliates, in a press statement on December 9 put their weight behind Nujoma’s statement of events that led to April 1, 1989. Muheua assured the NUNW affiliates yesterday that the union would not be allowed to die “at the hands of those hell bent on murdering it in cold blood”, urging the affiliates to remain calm because the situation was under control. He also said the NUNW declared the letter that Naholo wrote as null and void because it did not have the mandate to denounce or distance the affiliates from the press statement issued by the affiliates. Naholo did not attend the meeting which Muheua said wanted to establish the basis of the letter. According to Muheua, Naholo was the one who was mandated to call the meeting and ended up not turning up even though he promised to come much later. Naholo could not be contacted on his mobile telephone yesterday as it was perpetually on voicemail. A union official also said they failed to contact their deposed colleague. .