By Charles Tjatindi
Namibian panel beaters face an uncertain future as the two associations that represent the industry are caught in a wrangle and a war of words and that is seemingly driving the two further apart.
The associations in question are the Namibia Panel beaters Association (NPA) and the newly established Independent Panel beaters Association of Namibia (IPAN). The two have been at loggerheads regarding logistical operations within the industry.
Peter Doyle, President of IPAN, accuses the NPA of conniving with the insurance industry to make sure that jobs are only channelled to his friends in the industry, who Doyle called “white mafia bosses”. He also accuses the NPA of favouring white panel beaters as members.
A recent meeting called to address and possibly settle the differences between the two associations proved futile with no solution reached as representatives of both parties ended up trading bitter and harsh words.
At the meeting, Doyle made countless accusations against the NPA, and in particular its vice chairman Dippies Diepenaar, whom he accuses of personalising the activities of the NPA and running it like his house.
“Diepenaar is a dictator. He is the Saddam Hussein of Namibia. He does not always practice what he preaches,” a fuming Doyle told the meeting – also attended by representatives of the insurance industry, individual panel beaters and major breakdown services companies.
These comments proved too much for Diepennar. He and his colleagues from the NPA immediately walked out of the meeting.
When contacted later by New Era, Diepenaar said they walked out of the meeting because they believed that the meeting would not be able to address any relevant issues, but simply allow Doyle to put them on the spot. He further claimed the NPA was invited to the meeting under false pretences.
“We were told the meeting would be between us and the tow-in specialists to discuss other issues. We were even surprised to find Mr Doyle there. That is why we walked out. That meeting was not going to solve anything,” remarked Diepenaar.
Diepenaar denied Doyle’s accusations that his association only enlists whites as its members, and then allegedly provides jobs exclusively to them.
“That is just plain nonsense. We do not decide who gets the business. People provide quotes and the clients choose themselves whom they want to go for.
Mr Doyle does not have any proof of what he is talking about,” said Diepenaar.
According to Diepenaar, his association also has black-owned panel beating businesses as its members, who enjoy equal benefits from the association without greed or favour.
“We have quite a few of these businesses as members of the NPA. Doyle should just get his house in order. He should not look for scapegoats when things at his association are not going well for him,” noted Diepernaar.
Diepernaar noted that Doyle’s association – the Independent Panel beaters Association merely serves as “window dressing” without catering for the actual needs of its members.
He said he finds it amusing that Doyle all of a sudden sees problems in the NPA, the same association he has been a member of without raising any concerns.
Meanwhile, IPAN has written a letter to former Prime Minister and Member of Parliament Dr Hage Geingob requesting him to chair a follow-up meeting between insurance companies, brokers and panel beaters.
Geingob’s office however declined the invitation, citing prior engagements.
In light of Geingob’s non-availability for the meeting, both associations continue on the warpath with each one refusing to cooperate and to meet the other around the table.
Panel beaters in the industry are now hoping that the current differences between the two associations will be resolved amicably, before bringing the industry to its knees.