Court Postpones NUNW Case

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By Chrispin Inambao WINDHOEK High Court Judge Anel Silungwe yesterday postponed the keenly contested labour dispute pitting Peter Naholo, the ousted Acting Secretary General of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), against his former allies in the labour movement. During a brief court session lasting several minutes, Justice Silungwe granted the NUNW’s request, made through its lawyer Shafimana Ueitele, for a postponement to next Monday. In January the ousted unionist was restrained from entering NUNW premises after he threatened to reoccupy his seat at a highly-charged press briefing at which he called his rivals names such as “idiots,” bandits,” “malcontents,” and “opportunists”. He further told journalists that his opponents, sensing an inevitable political electoral defeat at the upcoming workers’ congress, suspended him through an illegal process. As the High Court had given Naholo until 20 February to submit counter-arguments on why the rule nisi should not be finalised, he filed a counter-motion on February 10. In his counter-application he had appealed to the High Court to declare null and void his termination of service as the Acting Secretary General of the NUNW in December 2005. Further in his reply the ousted union leader had argued that the Central Executive Committee (CEC) where his fate was decided was not properly constituted because some members of this committee were not present. Those apparently absent at the CEC meeting were named as Risto Kapenda, the President of NUNW, Miriam Hamutenya, the Secretary General of NANTU, and Ndapena Nghipandulwa, the President of NANTU. Naholo argued that though the three absentees are voting members of the CEC they did not even know of the meeting to pass the resolution that endorsed his ousting. “I challenge applicant to prove that a properly constituted meeting of CEC took place with a quorum to pass this resolution. Furthermore, this purported resolution clearly had to be passed at a special meeting in terms of clause 9.4.5 of applicant’s constitution.” “This clause requires the applicant’s EXCO, or a third of the affiliated unions to request a special meeting. Seven days prior notice is necessary. I say it was not complied with,” he maintains. “A resolution not passed at a properly constituted meeting has to be signed by not less than two thirds of the affiliated unions to have force. Annexure ‘AVM1’ to the founding affidavit clearly does not purport to comply with this requirement,” he says. Naholo claims he was never given a hearing or notice of the meeting of the CEC where his termination of service was decided. NUNW said at the time it obtained the constraining order that the respondent was aggressive and that some of his supporters who attended the media briefing were armed. The union that insists the CEC meeting was constituted properly and that its actions are legal implied in its affidavit that Naholo threatened to assault staff members. Naholo had a fall-out with the labour movement after he accused the union of having abused its position when it issued a statement exonerating the former President Sam Nujoma with regard to events that precipitated the massacre of hundreds of PLAN fighters in April ’89. On that fateful day trigger-happy South African occupational forces mercilessly gunned down members of PLAN, the then armed wing of Swapo, nearly derailing the UN peace process. Certain quarters heaped blame on Nujoma, but the NUNW leadership says colonial troops are to blame for the pre-independence atrocity. Unanisa Hengari a senior partner in the law firm Hengari, Kangueehi & Kavendji is representing Naholo in the high-profile labour case.