Govt still tight-lipped on fishermen jobs

25 February 2020 | Business

Acting fisheries minister Albert Kawana says he is waiting on Cabinet for “certain approvals” before making public pronouncements on the nuts and bolts of how former Namsov employees, who lost their jobs due to the Fishrot scandal, would be reabsorbed into the fishing sector.

Kawana did, however, reiterate that the former Namsov employees, who were retrenched because of the closure of the company in Walvis Bay last year, will get their jobs back.

He said consultations were being held to address the plight of former Namsov employees as well as those fishermen who had undertaken an illegal strike at Walvis Bay and Lüderitz in 2015.

Namsov was forced to close shop and retrench workers after its parent company, Bidvest, had its allocation of fishing quotas slashed by then fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau.

Amendments to the Marine Resources Act allowed Esau to allocate fishing quotas to companies at his discretion. As a result of these changes to the Act, Esau allocated 16% of the total allowable catch of horse mackerel to the National Fishing Corporation (Fishcor), to the detriment of Namsov. Esau, former justice minister Sacky Shanghala and Fishcor heavyweights, suspended CEO Mike Nghipunya and former board chairperson James Hatuikulipi, are among those in custody in connection with allegedly accepting over N$150 million in bribes to dish out fishing quotas to Icelandic company Samherji.

When asked what steps were being taken to expediate the re-employment of the fishermen, Kawana remained tight-lipped, saying certain approvals had to be given by Cabinet before he could make public pronouncements.

“Once Cabinet says I must go ahead, then you will see these people being employed,” he said.

Namsov was being prioritised, Kawana added. These workers would then be followed by the striking fishermen who lost their jobs.

“The Namsov employees will be my top priority to make sure my comrades go back to work; at least those who are qualified. Then there are these workers who were dismissed because of strikes. I will try my utmost best. I am constantly engaging the stakeholders to see how we can accommodate them.”

Kawana stressed that the process would be transparent to allow for fairness in the recruitment process.

“It is not for me to say, you, you, you… go to that company. What we want first is to publish publicly the names. That list will be published in the print media and [we will] invite concerned stakeholders to verify the list,” he said.

Kawana urged those in the fishing industry to engage him to ensure that every former employee's name is published.

“If there is somebody who was not supposed to be on this list, let us know. If there is somebody who is left out who qualifies to be on this list, let us know. We want to do these things transparently,” he added.

According to him, others would be included in the recruitment process after the successful placement of the two groups of workers.

“There are also those others who do not fall between the first two categories. We will still negotiate with the industry on how to employ our Namibians,” Kawana said.


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