Don't fall for empty promises - Venaani

19 December 2019 | Business

The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) has warned labour unions not to collude with government attempts to appease jobless fishermen with empty promises of re-employment.

In a statement issued this week, PDM leader McHenry Venaani said most of these families were in a desperate situation and the government did not seem to realise what impact the closure of the Namsov fishing company had on their families.

He is also sceptical about the timing of the intervention, four years after the fishermen lost their jobs.

“The timing is also questionable after the media exposed the Fishrot scandal. The PDM therefore calls for firm deadlines, mechanisms and plans to be announced by government on the re-employment and compensation of the fishermen,” he said.

This follows acting fisheries minister Albert Kawana's recent promise to re-employ fishermen who were laid off when Namsov lost its fishing quota under dubious circumstances during the tenure of former minister Bernhardt Esau. Kawana told fishing industry representatives at a recent meeting in Walvis Bay that this directive came from President Hage Geingob.

“I was given a directive by cabinet to make sure that all those that lost their jobs get their jobs back as soon as possible,” Kawana said.

An estimated 4 000 people lost their jobs when former fisheries minister Bernhard Esau reduced the horse-mackerel quotas awarded to United Fishing, Etosha Fishing and Namsov.

The quotas were instead given to state-owned enterprise Fishcor, which then sold them below market value to Icelandic fishing company Samherji, allegedly in exchange for bribes paid to Esau and his associates.

Esau was able to cut the three companies' quota allocations after pushing through an amendment of the Marine Resources Act. The amendment gave Esau discretion to allocate fishing quotas as he saw fit. 

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JEMIMA BEUKES

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