WINDHOEK – The Swapo Party leadership in the //Karas region has appealed to government to speed up the proclamation of Rosh Pinah, Aussenkehr, Ariamsvlei and Noordoewer as local authorities, as well as to implement direct funding to constituencies.
According to the //Karas Regional Coordinator of the Swapo Party, Mathew Mumbala, constituency councillors are often forced to approach the private sector for donations and have therefore been reduced to beggars. “As the ruling party we are responsible for directing our government as it is time to prepare the budget for 2014 and 2015. As you are aware the electorate is having high expectations of service delivery from their constituency councillors, but without budgets they will be unable to do that. Thus they become too much reliant on the private sector for donations in order to assist their communities,” he said.
Mumbala also reiterated the call on companies operating in Namibia to acquaint themselves with Namibian law in particular the Labour Act in order to ensure that laws are respected and Namibian workers are treated with dignity. He urged the management of the Aussenkehr grape farm to remove a road block which is alledgedly placed within the residential area, and is used to bully workers into buying their groceries only from the shop at Aussenker. According to Mumbala workers on the farm are prohibited from collecting firewood at Aussenker and are forced to buy wood from a certain person on the farm. “We repeat our strong condemnation of the practice and urge all companies in this region to respect the welfare and dignity of Namibian workers. In the same vein, we appeal to the company’s management and their drivers to respect the laws of this country. Namibia was declared free forever and no one in this country needs a permit to go to any town or region,” he charged. He also called on regional councillors to intervene in labour matters in the absence of a farm workers union. “The issue of ill-treatment of workers is not confined to Aussenkehr alone. At the Nautedam agriculture project workers are faced with similar unhealthy conditions. They have no proper accommodation and the managers have no respect for the workers. We call in the strongest term for the Minister of Agriculture to transfer the manager of Nautedam to somewhere else for the sake of progress,” said Mumbala.
Futhermore, the chairperson of the //Karas Regional Council, Jan Scholtz, conceded that the treatment of workers in the region is unacceptable. According to Scholtz labour unions must be held accountable for the Aussenkehr accident. “It is very sad that something like that had to happen for us to realise how dangerous the situation of transporting workers on trucks is. I was not aware that workers were transported like this. The thing is people do business, but they do not want to invest in it. I believe that the labour unions should be held solely responsible for the manner in which workers are transported,” noted Scholtz. A two-day labour law training course is scheduled to take place in Lüderitz this week in an effort to educate union representatives, employees and employers on the labour law and to strengthen relations between the various parties.
By Jemima Beukes