Retrenched fishermen to get jobs back

12 December 2019 | Fishing

Acting fisheries minister Albert Kawana says all the workers who lost their jobs due to Namsov losing its fishing quota under dubious circumstances during the tenure of former minister Bernhardt Esau will in no uncertain terms receive employment again.

“I was given a directive by cabinet to make sure that all those that lost their jobs get their jobs back as soon as possible,” Kawana said in Kuisebmond, Walvis Bay yesterday, where he addressed fishing industry representatives and workers.

“And these workers should go back to work, as this is a directive by President Hage Geingob.

“They have suffered enough and their families have suffered enough and the time has come for them to have bread on the table.”

Kawana added that even the workers who took part in an illegal strike a few years ago will regain their employment, as everyone is human and cannot be punished forever for their mistakes.

“Nobody in Namibia must be hungry or poor and the natural resources of this country must benefit all Namibian people.”

Kawana also said that although the Fishrot scandal has angered many, everyone should allow the law to determine the final outcome.

It has been widely reported that job losses in the fishing industry over the years were caused by Esau's reallocation of fishing quotas to those linked to the unfolding Fishrot bribery scandal.

It is alleged that Iceland seafood company Samherji paid over N$150 million in bribes to secure access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia.

Others in custody with Esau are former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, former Fishcor board chairperson James Hatuikulipi, his former colleague at Investec Namibia Ricardo Gustavo, Esau's son-in-law Tamson 'Fitty' Hatuikulipi and Pius 'Taxa' Mwatelulo.

“What happened is before court. Let the law take its course. There are various institutions investigating the case, not only in this country but also internationally,” Kawana said, who was tasked by Geingob late last month to undertake an assessment and an evaluation of the country's marine resources and eliminate maladministration, nepotism and corruption.

He has also been tasked to review the affairs and administration of the ministry of fisheries and Fishcor over the last ten years.

Kawana yesterday called on all trade unions to meet with him next Tuesday at his office at 10:00.

Meanwhile, independent candidate for the upcoming Walvis Urban Constituency by-election Knowledge Ipinge has urged Kawana to renegotiate agreements and policies in favour of the country's 121 constituencies, so they can benefit directly, and not through private companies.

Ipinge also wants fishing quotas to be allocated through the Walvis Urban Constituency office to empower striking fishermen and factory workers who have lost their jobs during Esau's term of office.

“This will ensure back pay for the loss of income throughout the past years and that those capable of going back to work should be re-employed with immediate effect,” Ipinge said, adding that 2 000 permanent employment opportunities should be created.

He also called for salary hikes for fishing workers and an improvement to their working conditions, as well as the creation of 500 bursaries annually in the constituency for youth.

Ipinge also wants social grants for fishing workers, as well as their widows and children. He also called for access to the Marine Resource Fund, with monies to be used to develop basic infrastructure in the constituency.

He also threatened to shut down the fishing industry and Namport from 21 March next year if Kawana does not come to the table within seven days to negotiate.

Adolf Kaure

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