Geingob must intervene - Tucna

Union calls on president to stop City water tariff hikes

05 July 2019 | Local News

The Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna) has called on President Hage Geingob to put a stop to the 5% water tariff hikes for Windhoek residents, while also urging government to speed up the removal of visa requirements for all Africans visiting the country.

“The president must issue an executive order in terms of which the water tariffs increment for the City of Windhoek is declared contrary to the public good in this time of acute need and economic challenges, and for them to be revoked forthwith,” Tucna secretary-general Mahongora Kavihuha said at a media conference yesterday.

Kavihuha accused the municipality of leaning on a “lame justification” for the hikes, which are related to a 5% NamWater bulk water supply increase.

The City council in June approved the proposed 5% increase, pending the gazetting of the tariff increases approved by the municipality.

“The argument that the increments are done to recover direct and indirect costs associated with the provision of water and other relevant services simply does not hold water,” Kavihuha said.

“Why during this difficult year? Why not wait until the drought eases off?”

Kavihuha also criticised the lack of consultation with stakeholders, including residents, before the increases were agreed and approved.

He particularly took aim at NamWater.

He said NamWater, as a bulk supplier, has done little “for all the time of their existence” and accused them of “sneaking” the increases through.

Kavihuha also noted that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has taken centre stage, but little has been done to prepare the groundwork for such a deal.

He referred to the lack of ratification of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) key standards on labour migration and said Namibia has fallen behind in terms of prioritising migration and migrant worker issues.

“Looking at the instruments that would fast-track regional integration, whose core is the free movement of people, in Namibia these are all shelved and again no discernable movement or progress can be registered.”

Kavihuha added agreement will be signed “without fully engaging those that could be affected by the free trade agreement, such as workers for instance”.

The union, he said, is going to “tackle the ratification” of the two conventions dealing with migration in the Labour Advisory Council and are hopeful that the labour ministry will fast-track the process through cabinet to parliament “without further delays”.

Kavihuha added that while the union was happy when it was announced that visas for Africans will be scrapped, little has happened since that pronouncement.

He urged Geingob to “consider favourably the removal of visa requirements for all Africans, or if done for the reasons of revenue collection, for visas to be issued on arrival”.

He also criticised the performance of the home affairs ministry, claiming that conditions have deteriorated and that passports now take lengthy periods to be completed.

JANA-MARI SMITH