Save Walvis from lies and job losses

10 February 2020 | Opinion

After being humbled in the 27 November general election, in December Swapo moved to assure retrenched fishermen at Walvis Bay that they'll get their jobs back.

Whether by default or design, the promise was made ahead of the regional council by-election on 15 January, possibly to help salvage votes. The promise of giving the stranded fishermen their jobs back was repeated numerous times during the campaign before the by-election.

As fate would have it, the Swapo candidate in that election lost to an independent candidate. What is ironic is that instead of fishermen getting their jobs back, more are getting retrenched as heralded in meetings held with the unions in the past two weeks.

Promising that all fishermen would get their jobs back was, after all, a cock and bull story. Many private companies that retrenched fishermen, ironically because a fisheries minister stripped those companies of fishing quotas, have sold their vessels.

And apart from no longer having the vessels on which the retrenched workers must hop on, these enterprises are private and cannot simply be ordered by government or the ruling party to re-employ people.

We are not aware of any private fishing companies being actively engaged by government and having consented to taking back anyone they have retrenched.

It would seem as though Albert Kawana's promise was based on nothing concrete, but rather a desperate move to canvas votes after the ruling party's defeat at the coastal town last year.

Mind you, Kawana's pronouncements were based on what seemed like a Cabinet directive without any consultations with fishing employers.

The bottom line is that Walvis, our most important port city, is at the crossroads and we need sober non-partisan leadership to steer the proverbial ship away from further trouble.

While the leaders wake up in the morning to the strong scent of coffee and breakfast, their retrenched fellow countrymen endure a cocktail of pain, poverty and hopelessness. History will judge this nation harshly if nothing is done to rescue the situation.

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