Kunene salary delays: Napwu approaches court

07 January 2022 | Labour

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK

The Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) has appealed to the High Court with an urgent application to order the Kunene Regional Council to pay out the December salaries of its staff following a tit-for-tat battle over the council’s reappointment of chief regional officer (CRO) George Kambseb.

The union claims urgency based on the fact that this issue affects workers and their families, including school-going children whose right to education are undermined.

Napwu filed papers with the High Court this week, dragging the Kunene Regional Council, minister of urban and rural development Erastus Utoni, finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi, Kunene governor Marius Sheya and Kunene chief regional officer George Kamseb to court.

Punishing the workers

In his affidavit, Napwu secretary-general Petrus Nevonga said the council’s resolution of 14 December 2021, that Kamseb’s salary be prepared from the general expense account and no salary for any staff member of the council be paid out without processing his salary, was unlawful.

He added that the meeting of 14 December, where the resolution was taken, was unlawful in that the regional governor had not been informed as is stipulated by the law.

“Alarmingly, and yet lamentably, it is not clear why the regional council decided, grudgingly so, to punish its employees who are members of Napwu, for no valid reasons whatsoever.

“The salaries and remuneration of the employees were duly appropriated and approved by Treasury during the current financial year. It does not need further approval. It simply needs administrative and operational activation by the council through its officials,” he said.

Not their business

The union leader also argued that the workers have nothing to do with the dispute between the council, the minister and Kamseb, and are still working despite not having received their salaries.

According to Nevonga, the workers are finding themselves in a precarious financial situation and there is a likelihood that given the current standoff between the ministry and the council, workers may not receive their salaries for several more months.

He added that he had in the meantime been informed that there was no instruction to prepare the January 2022 salaries, which would spell financial disaster for the workers.

According to him, Kamseb’s reappointment by the council, who now faces a legal suit by Utoni, was a nullity and his complaints of an unfair dismissal with the labour commission were strange and without any merits.

“His contract came to an end on 30 September 2018, hence the question of unfair dismissal will not have arisen. He was placed on fully paid leave which continued until the expiry of his contract in September 2018, meaning that he was on fully paid leave for a period of 24 months in total. He faced a litany of serious allegations of misconduct,” Nevonga stated in the court papers.

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