Local architects threaten legal action

Namibian architects and quantity surveyors have threatened to approach the High Court unless the minister of works and transport abandons a plan to exempt Zimbabweans from the required registration process.

11 August 2017 | Labour

A group of Namibian architects and quantity surveyors are challenging a decision taken by works and transport minister Alpheus !Naruseb to seek exemption for 29 Zimbabwean nationals who will not be required to register with the Namibia Council of Architects and Quantity Surveyors immediately.

The group are demanding that !Naruseb revoke the decision to seek exemption for the Zimbabweans and have given the minister until the end of business today to respond to their demand. Should !Naruseb ignore the demand, they will approach the High Court with an urgent application to block the exemption.

!Naruseb recently sought exemption for 29 Zimbabwean nationals from the provisions of the Architects and Quantity Surveyors Act of 1979.

The lawyer representing the affected group, Sisa Namandje, questioned why the government was seeking exemption for the group of 29 by asking for their names to be placed on the council's register. “If you are exempting them from registration, how could you, in contra, ask the council to place their names on the register?” asked Namandje. He called !Naruseb's decision irrational and unreasonable, arguing that local professionals must go through the registration process. “Your decision was irrational and was taken for ulterior purposes. The decision is unreasonable particularly in view of the non-exemption of Namibians who have to go through the requisite training programme,” said Namandje. “There was no proper application of mind on all relevant issues before the decision was taken.” Namandje also called the government decision flawed and said the provisions of the exemption were ambiguous. “The general exemption is also hopelessly flawed for several reasons. This includes the fact that while you seemingly granted a general exemption to the concerned Zimbabwean expatriates from all the provisions in the Act, the notice is materially ambiguous whether or not you intended exemption the concerned Zimbabwean expatriates from all provisions of the Act or only some provisions of the Act,” said Namandje.

According to Namandje, an agreement that paved the way for Zimbabwean architects and quantity surveyors to work for the Namibian government expired recently.

“The agreement expired on 16 May 2017 and there was no valid state act by the two states in terms whereof the agreement could have been validly extended,” he said.

He also called the agreement invalid and said works and transport permanent secretary Willem Goeiemann had no power to negotiate and execute international agreements without the permission of the head of state. “Further, even if it were to be accepted for argument's sake that the agreement is still in force, we contend with due regard that the agreement is invalid as it was purportedly negotiated and signed by the permanent secretary of the ministry of works and transport when he did not have power to negotiate and execute an international agreement between Namibia and another state unless he had written delegation power by the president,” Namandje argued.

“We demand that the minister give us an undertaking by close of business that the Gazette be revoked and withdrawn within the next ten days. Should we not receive such an undertaking we hereby place you on notice that the High Court shall be approached on [an] urgent basis,” Namandje wrote.



OGONE TLHAGE

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