Windhoek-Fifty-six former Tsumeb Corporation Limited (TCL) workers are camped outside the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) office in Katutura, where they are demanding answers from the union regarding their lost pension amounting to N$116 million.
The elderly retrenchees have been camped outside MUN offices since 18 September this year and said they would seek an audience with the Prime Minister or the President to air their grievances on the manner in which their pension money disappeared.
Those who died are represented by their children while those who are too frail to travel are represented by their wives. The case of the former TCL workers was struck off the roll in September 2012. Five years later, they refuse to give up saying “it is money we worked for”.
They also allege that the MUN that represented them as workers has a hand in their pension that is unaccounted for. They also alleged that the new MUN office was constructed using their pension money. The Assistant General Secretary of the MUN, Paul Smokey Situmba told New Era in an interview that it is difficult to assist the former TCL workers at a stage where things are totally out of hand, with their case having been struck off the roll.
“Whoever dealt with their case, we were never involved,” Situmba added.
He also said if there is a possibility “we are willing to assist”. Situmba also said, “If some union members ate their money, I’m not aware of their allegations.”
He added that former TCL workers have occupied the area near their office by force, as they rejected their initial requests to camp outside the MUN office. “We rejected because it’s unhygienic,” Situmba added.
New Era met and interviewed the elderly on Friday and Monday where they aired their grievances and how they want the country’s leadership to intervene in their case.
“We were in court and our case was taken off the roll. We want the President and Prime Minister to meet us and tell us that they can’t help us then maybe we will give up. All eight Legal Aid lawyers withdrew from our case because apparently we didn’t provide them with enough evidence,” said Didhard Mparo, the chairperson of the Ex-TCL Mineworkers’ committee.
Mparo said: “It’s our money. We are here struggling and we can’t take care of our children because our money was stolen and nobody is taking responsibility.” He alleged that the new office of the MUN was built with their pension money.
“They don’t even want to allow us entry into the building to have peaceful meetings with them. They are threatening us that they would call the police. That is what is hurting us. They are refusing us entry into the building, which was constructed with our money. We don’t want war. We just want our money,” said Mparo.
New Era spoke to some of the elderly people who said they want to know what happened to their money.
One such elderly is 82-year-old Shanilifa Linus, who worked at TCL between 1970 and 1974 as a labour control official.
“I was sent by the ELCIN (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia),” said Linus who travelled from Endola to camp with his former colleagues.
He said he travelled all that way because he wants to taste the fruits of his labour.
“I don’t know how much I am supposed to get but it is my money and that is why I am here. It cost me hard work. I feel bad that I didn’t get it until now. We just want our money,” said the father of seven.
Linus added that his children do not have proper jobs and so he only depends on his monthly social grant to survive.
Timoteus Elias, who is also 82 years old, said he has eight children.
“Two work in Swakopmund,” said Elias, who travelled from the Ohangwena region. Even though his children are employed, they have to meet their own needs, said Elias. And so, he wants his pension money to help him get by. Elias worked for TCL between 1961 and 1978. “I’m very grieved because of my money. It pains me greatly that is why I am here. I worked for it,” Elias added.
He said his last hope is to seek audience with the Prime Minister and President.
“I want to hear what they will say and if they can help us. If nothing comes out of that I will let it go and accept that my money is gone,” said Elias.