Govt Faces Tricky Ramatex

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By Kuvee Kangueehi

Windhoek

Labour Commissioner, Bro Mathews Shinguadja, has written a letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs requesting the ministry not to allow any of the Ramatex managers to leave the country before they meet all obligations as required by the Labour Act and Company Act.

New Era could neither get details of the letter nor the position of the Ministry of Home Affairs yesterday.

Late yesterday, New Era also learnt that Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau), which represents the majority of employees at Ramatex, has requested all former employees to be medically examined in order to determine whether they are not suffering from any side effects due to their work at Ramatex.

Meanwhile, according to a high-ranking Government official, the Government does not have a strong legal claim in its quest to minimise the impact of the abrupt closure of the Malaysian textile company, Ramatex, last Thursday.

Since the closure of Ramatex, the Government has been considering holding the company liable for breach of contract by failing to give a one-year notice on its intention to shut down and on other agreements.

It has emerged that despite the fact that the Government has invested more than N$100 million into the business, there is no contractual agreement between Ramatex and the Government.

The Government can only produce a Ramatex business plan and a number of correspondence between Ministry of Trade and the company, while trying to hold Ramatex accountable for breach of contract.

The only legal document, which exists between the two parties, is a 99-year lease agreement between Ramatex and the Municipality of Windhoek.
The lease agreement is said to be very ambiguous and has been sent to legal experts for interpretation.

A high-ranking Government official who is part of the team that is dealing with Ramatex closure said even the one-year notice agreement that the Government has with Ramatex is not legally binding and it cannot claim losses or damages now that Ramatex only gave a one-month notice.

The official said Ramatex, in fact, gave notice to the Government two years ago that it wanted to close shop and made some proposals such as that the Government buys the company.

The official noted that Ramatex never revoked its notice that it was planning to close its operations and can claim that it indeed gave the Government a two-year notice.

The official also revealed that the two companies that have closed business down are Rhino Garments, which closed last year, and Flamingo, which closed its operations last Thursday, and technically not Ramatex.

He said Rhino Garments and Flamingo are two separate legal entities from Ramatex and the Government never inquired into the relationship between Rhino Garments and Flamingo and thus any agreement it had with Ramatex is seriously being undermined by the two companies.

The source said most of the correspondence between the Government and Ramatex since the notice to close down has been done under the letterheads of Flamingo. It is not clear yet against whom the Government should take action, if it intends to.

The source noted that the Government has a strong moral case against Ramatex, but legally the issue is too flawed to stand any ground in a court of law.

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