Over 1 000 residents of Rosh Pinah yesterday petitioned the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration for the immediate cancellation of the permanent residency of Christo Aspeling, the managing director of Rosh Pinah Zinc Mine.
Reports from Rosh Pinah that could not be independently confirmed claimed some schools were forced to shut down for the day because of the unrest in the town.
Residents are unhappy that the ministry in 2013 issued Aspeling with permanent residency, allegedly without the Mineworkers Union of Namibia’s (MUN) approval.
Residents are calling for the immediate cancellation of Aspeling’s permanent residency and for his immediate deportation to his country of origin.
Led by the Rosh Pinah Zinc Mine workers who have been on strike for 34 days, residents marched to Home Affairs offices at Rosh Pinah to hand over the petition.
Delivering the petition on behalf of the workers and the community, the MUN regional organiser Elvis Bekele said workers and residents at the southern mining town are not happy that Aspeling was issued with a permanent residence permit without authorisation of the union.
They accuse Aspeling of being a “racist” who apparently does not care for the well-being of black people.
“The MUN since 2009, when the immigration selection board requested the support letter from the union for Aspeling’s work permit to be approved, has objected and made it clear that there was no need to support his work permit,” the MUN said in the petition delivered by Bekele.
He said the union wants to make it categorically clear that Aspeling was issued with permanent residency in 2013 without the union’s approval.
According to the unionist, Aspeling is responsible for the suffering of employees at the mine.
“It is because of him (Aspeling) that most of the employees’ benefits are reduced and it is also because of him that the employees are going to be retrenched.”
“MUN cannot tolerate or entertain non-Namibians to come and advocate unemployment in this country,” said Bekele. He said that after being issued with permanent residency Aspeling started exercising racial discrimination by appointing only whites within management structures.
“Today Aspeling also threatens to retrench employees at Rosh Pinah; he is threatening to close the entire operations by the end of May that could leave 500 workers jobless,” Bekele said.
Receiving the petition on behalf of the ministry, the regional councillor for Oranjemund and Rosh Pinah, Lazarus Nangolo, promised to send the petition to the relevant authority.
Speaking to New Era yesterday Nangolo, a former unionist himself, said that after listening to the residents’ complaints he was of the opinion that Aspeling’s permanent residency should be revoked.
“I believe proper guidelines were not followed; I have reports that people were promised jobs if they recommended Aspeling’s permanent residency to the ministry,” he said.