New deputy labour commissioner under fire

10 May 2021 | Labour

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK

The appointment of Kyllikki Sihlahla as the new deputy labour commissioner has raised eyebrows, with critics questioning her suitability for the job.

There are also claims that she is a relative of labour minister Utoni Nujoma and that she was handpicked because of her family ties with the minister.

Sihlahla replaced Tuulikki Mwafufya, who went into retirement end of last month after more than 20 years in the ministry.

Both Nujoma and Sihlahla denied that there exist family ties between them.

Mwafufya has no kind words for her successor, saying she is unqualified for the position which was never publicly advertised.

Although the ministry says Sihlahla has extensive experience around labour matters, her alleged close relationship with Nujoma has come under the spotlight.

The ministry has dismissed claims that it wheelbarrowed Sihlahla into the position.

Mwafufya said the ministry appointed Sihlahla despite her not having conciliation and arbitrary experience.

She also said the ministry is run like a like a private firm.

“The letter of appointment was signed by the deputy executive and the minister appointed the new deputy commissioner. Nujoma is a close relative of the lady appointed and even her first born is named after him. When she came there, she never allowed me to do my work and she ended up doing my work. I was just being paid for nothing,” she said.

Nujoma responded: “I have appointed Ms Sihlalala in accordance with the applicable law and on the recommendation of the Labour Commissioner Mr Kassen and the ED Bro-Mathew Shinguandja.”

Executive director Bro-Mathew Shinguadja laughed off the allegations and said the Labour Act allows the minister to appoint anyone as labour commissioner or as deputy labour commissioner and once these people are appointed, they are automatically arbitrators.

“To say she does not have experience is a lie. She was one of the first arbitrators we have in the ministry since 2009 when the first arbitration process started. Those who say she is related to minister Utoni, it doesn’t matter, I don’t know that, but when Utoni came here she was already here,” he said.

Sihlahla said she cannot comment on her own appointment and queries should be directed to the appointing authority.

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