Eat your words, Mr Governor

28 February 2019 | Columns

So former general secretary of the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN), Cleophas Mutjavikua, sees nothing wrong with his comments to a Chinese mine manager in leaked audio recordings that have gone viral.

In one of the audio recordings, Mutjavikua, who now serves as Erongo governor and by extension is the representative of the head of state in the region, was purportedly suggesting the “re-organisation” of Husab mine. He also suggested ways to undermine the very same union he once headed. In addition, the governor can be heard stating that President Hage Geingob is unlikely to support the “re-organisation” plan as it is an election year. Of course the governor did not use the word retrenchments, but his intent was obviously to curry favour with the Chinese and give them strategic advice. Sadly, this advice was to the detriment of the very same workers he had committed to represent, not only as a unionist, but as a politician who serves the region and its interests. As a leader who used the unions as a springboard to be where he is today, Mutjavikua should have handled this issue differently by putting the interests of the workers first, considering the ongoing retrenchments across all sectors of the economy, which has further worsened our already astronomically high unemployment rate. And regarding the reference to the head of state, the governor is clearly feeding the perception that politicians only take the workers and electorate seriously when elections are looming. Workers should be given the respect they deserve, if we are indeed serious about seeing a stable and sustainable democracy. The recording, in the final analysis, raises serious questions about whether the ruling party, which was built on the backs of workers, still truly represents them through their affiliated unions. Instead of defending himself, the governor should take stock of his utterances and publicly apologise for compromising the struggle of the workers and himself. You should eat your words, Mr Governor, and admit you were wrong.

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