'Pay up Samherji'
The opposition leader says his party will consider a court challenge if the company does not respond within 15 days.
23 January 2020 | Short News
Samherji last Friday announced its withdrawal from Namibia in the wake of the exposure of the scandal, which resulted in the resignation of former fisheries and justice ministers Bernardt Esau and Sacky Shanghala, and their incarceration with fellow accused Jason Hatuikulipi, Tamson 'Fitty' Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo and Pius Mwatelulo in November.
This followed after thousands of leaked documents showed that the accused had allegedly conspired with Samherji to receive bribes estimated at N$150 million in exchange for horse-mackerel fishing quotas.
Announcing Samherji's intention to de-invest in Namibia last week, the company's CEO Björgólfur Jóhannsson failed to give a timeframe, only saying that the process would “take some time”.
Venaani welcomed Samherji's intention to leave Namibia, but said the company should first compensate all fishermen who had lost their jobs when local companies lost their fishing quotas and went bankrupt. Venaani demanded that Samherji pay all aggrieved fishermen a monthly salary equal to the amount they would have earned by now, taking into account inflationary escalations, as well as a pensionable lump sum calculated on that amount.
Because some retrenched fishermen committed suicide after losing their jobs, Venaani suggested that benefits be paid out to their families.
Venaani called on Samherji to respond to this demand within 15 working days, failing which the PDM may seek a court order to attach Samherji's assets in Namibia, including a N$400 million ship.
Namsov Fishing Enterprises, which had been the biggest beneficiary of horse-mackerel quotas since 2004 – had sued the fisheries ministry over the allocation of the quotas, claiming that Esau had reneged on his decision to award Namsov an additional quota of 13 337 tonnes for 2014.
It is alleged that the allocation went to, among others, Fishcor, which by proxy allegedly passed on a portion of its quota to Samherji.
In 2014 Namsov said it had been forced to lay off 120 workers as a result.
More job losses were to follow, allegedly because of Esau's reallocation of fishing quotas to those linked to the Fishrot scandal.
Interim fisheries minister Albert Kawana said at a rally at Kuisebmond in Walvis Bay in December last year that he had been given a cabinet directive to ensure that all those who had lost their jobs because of the corruption are re-employed “as soon as possible”.