The love-hate relationship between NUNW unionists and Namibia’s
Premier and what lies behind the war of words between Prime Minister Nahas Angula and Evilastus Kaaronda of the NUNW
By Kuvee Kangueehi
The public spat between Prime Minister, Nahas Angula, and the secretary general of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), Evilastus Kaaronda, last week appears to be the tip of the iceberg. The relationship between the Premier and the NUNW leadership has been frosty for some time and could be fuelled by the politicking in Swapo.
New Era has learnt that the relationship between the union leadership and Angula has been tense at least for the last couple of months. A story is being told about how the Premier once walked out of a mee-ting with the union leadership after a heated debate.
The union leadership consisting of the NUNW leadership and general secretaries of their affiliates met Angula on September 12, this year in the Prime Minister’s Boardroom to discuss the running of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).
According to a union leader who spoke on condition of anonymity,
the NUNW first approached President Hifikepunye Pohamba regarding the retrenchment of workers at SOEs.
Pohamba reportedly referred them to Angula as chairperson of the SOE Council. The unionists wrote a letter to Angula to seek an audience with him regarding the issue.
Angula in response stated that he was willing to see them provided they brought proper evidence that the SOE restructuring
process was not being exe-cuted properly and is exploiting workers.
A day before the meeting, Angula allegedly called Kaaronda and informed him that he should tell all the other union leaders that they should bring along their Swapo Party membership cards as well as their struggle credentials.
At that point, the union leadership allegedly wanted to boycott the meeting but finally decided to attend the meeting with the Premier.
At the said meeting, Angula allegedly lashed out at the union leadership, calling them “Johnny-come-latelies” to the Swapo Party. He asked them why they did not join the struggle or go into exile.
Despite the union leadership trying to remind him that the matter of Swapo membership was not on the agenda, Angula allegedly informed the union leaders that they were nursing a political plot against him and were trying to set him up against his superiors.
After the outburst, Angula collected his documents, threw his arms in the air and left the union leadership in the boardroom without discussing the issue of SOEs.
Contacted for comment on Saturday, Angula confirmed the said meeting and said he walked out because the union leadership could not prove their allegations that the restructuring at SOEs was exploiting workers.
A clearly angry Angula said if the union leadership wants to discuss something, they must do it genuinely and not hide behind some issues.
He said he knew that for some of the union leaders, Swapo is not their first political home but “they want to be more original Swapos than others”.
“If Kaaronda wants a fight, he will get it, he has picked on the wrong man, he must not provoke a sleeping dog.”
Angula further hit out at Kaaronda saying he (Kaaronda) thinks he has the monopoly to insult others. He said Kaaronda must learn to show respect to others and the Namibian Government.
“People must learn how to communicate and not try and portray themselves as the best Swapos around because Swapo to them is a second choice.”
Approached for comment, Kaaronda said whatever cri-ticism he has made was not levelled at Angula and should not be viewed as a personal attack, but that it was criticism at the Namibian Prime Minister as chairperson of the SOE Council according to the SOE Act.
He noted that according to the Act, as the chairperson of the SOE Council, Angula should convene meetings of the Council, which consists of the Minister of Finance, Director General of Planning, Attorney General and Minister of Trade but so far, the Council has not had a single meeting.
Kaaronda noted that the Council, according to the Act, is expected to meet the Board of Directors and line ministers of the different SOEs and discuss issues such as restructuring and advise the Cabinet.
Kaaronda said Angula does (not) understand the Act when he thinks it is right that ministers responsible for specific SOEs report to Cabinet about operations such as restructuring, and Cabinet advises them.
He noted that the Act requires the chairperson of SOE Council to make re-commendations to cabinet and then it is for Cabinet to make decisions.
“The Cabinet should not advise but take a decision on serious matters such as restructuring after the SOE Council has studied the proposal.”
Last week, Kaaronda made an abrasive attack on Angula when he accused him of being “carefree and extremely insensitive to the plight of the workers” at a media conference.
Angula in turn took a swipe at Kaaronda and said the union leader “in his characteristic fashion of a running dog” made wild assertions against him (Angula).