By Catherine Sasman
Republican Party president, Henk Mudge, said he is considering legal action against allegations of racism by Managing Director of Air Namibia, Cosmos Egumbo.
Responding to Mudge’s claims that the airline has appointed people in positions they are not qualified for under Affirmative Action provisions, and hence compromising the safety of the airline’s passengers and crew, Egumbo at a press briefing claimed that Mudge’s statements were “blatantly racist”.
“To make an apocalyptic statement that somehow people are going to die because there are no so-called experienced and passionate pilots, in other words white people according to him [Mudge] at the helm of our organisation, is the highest form of racial arrogance,” Egumbo among others said.
The anticipated legal action, said Mudge, would provide Egumbo and the airline with ample opportunity to prove him a racist.
“Be that as it may, Mr Egumbo will not be allowed to draw the attention away from the real issues by resorting to these kinds of accusations,” said Mudge, arguing that Egumbo had not addressed the concerns raised by him.
Mudge had accused the airline of nepotism, mismanagement, lack of financial discipline, double standards, and for fast-tracking promotions of insufficiently qualified pilots, at the expense of other qualified Namibian pilots.
Egumbo denied these allegations and accused Mudge of cheap political dabbling, and holding a gripe against the airline because his brother’s application was not successful.
“Again, Mr Egumbo tried to distract the attention from the real issues by directing a low blow to my person by insinuating that my statement was the result of a failed application by one of my relatives.
Mr Egumbo should have done his homework first, because although I accept the fact that he is not familiar with this kind of behaviour, I can assure him that our family’s integrity is above any suspicion and we have never and will never expect to achieve anything by relying on who we know,” said Mudge.
He also challenged Egumbo – who had earlier said that a “more competent” candidate had been chosen for the job, in this instance, William Ekandjo for the position of Senior Manager: Flight – to publicly compare the qualifications and experience of the applicants initially advertised.
He further maintained that the initial qualifications for the job as advertised, had been subsequently changed in the second round to accommodate Ekandjo in the senior managerial position.
Mudge said he will still submit his reasons to President Hifikepunye Pohamba, why he fears Air Namibia’s safety is being compromised.
“Initially, I intended to submit a report, but decided to rather go public for one reason only and that is to put some of the facts on the table, thereby making it easier for the President to have certain specific issues investigated rather than to allow for the possibility of cover-ups should he order an investigation in general,” Mudge said.