Amushelelo, Amupanda in nasty falling-out

AR founder clashes with party benefactor
The two youthful activists are not seeing eye-to-eye over the plight of City of Windhoek contract workers.
Tuyeimo Haidula
Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) economic commissar Michael Amushelelo and Affirmative Repositioning (AR) chief activist Job Amupanda have clashed over the plight of ward contractors at the City of Windhoek, who downed tools last month demanding better working conditions.

Amushelelo joined the disgruntled group of workers yesterday in continuation of their demonstrations, and challenged Amupanda, who doubles as a City councillor, to join the protest if he’s genuinely concerned about the workers.

Amushelelo, who was arrested recently while leading the workers’ chaotic protests, accused Amupanda of failing to deliver on his promises to the cleaners when he ascended to the position of councillor.

In October 2019, before he became a City councillor, Amupanda tweeted: “Leaders of 637 cleaners at the City of Windhoek came to me this morning. Some are cleaners for 20 years but have never been permanent. They are on a N$3 500 salary, no medical aid, no pension. We are meeting all workers on Sunday (20/10/2019) for a way forward”.

Amushelelo charged that Amupanda, who has also served as Windhoek mayor since then, was perfectly positioned to assist the workers, but he abandoned them “like Moses failing to deliver his people to the Promised Land”.

Amupanda last month suggested that there was something being done about the plight of the workers, tweeting: “Just when this is about to finish, then we see the same workers put in the mud for headlines and hype; surely giving more reasons to those who didn’t want to see these workers employed full-time”.

‘I paid for it’

According to the NEFF commissar, the difference between leaders and politicians is that politicians use the people to achieve their goals and once these goals have been reached, they forget about the people.

He said when Amupanda, Dimbulukeni Nauyoma and George Kambala formed AR, he supported and sympathised with their cause. He further accused Amupanda of being worse than the current politicians.

“I was one of the AR financiers. I financed their campaign. That billboard in Windhoek depicting Job as incoming mayor, I paid for it.

“It represented hope for the young people. I could resonate with the cause and pumped in my personal money. I voted for them and I made sure they got the seats. I have to call him out,” he said.

He also accused Amupanda of ignoring his phone calls since becoming mayor.

Amushelelo said: “We should start calling hypocrites hypocrites. His truth was never genuine. He is worse than the current politicians”.

“This is not a political matter. He must not think he is smarter than others. With his many degrees, he is still shallow. He is starting to look like an educated fool. These [the City workers] are people nearing retirement with no benefits or anything to take home. Real issues. And if he had solved them as mayor, the workers would not have turned to me. If anyone used people for political gain, it’s Job.”

Not on same level

Meanwhile, Amupanda retorted that he will not fight Amushelelo as it would be a ‘pointless exercise’.

He added that he and NEFF commissar are not on the same level.

When questioned why they cannot join forces as they are fighting for the same issue - better working conditions for workers - he said Amushelelo dragging his name into the protest is a political attack.

“If he wants to battle politically, he can do that. He is just doing what the others did. The Dimbulukenis, Pau Paus and the rest,” he said.

Amupanda said Amushelelo should push his narratives without riding on his name.

He also questioned why Amushelelo did not call him for an update if he “genuinely wanted to know what my position is and what has happened”.

The AR activist said, as mayor, he took resolutions, and they are still working to find amicable solutions to the workers’ plight.

His hands are tied at the moment as there is little to no support inside council on the issue, he added.

“Do I control council? We are battling. People are deliberately sitting on it. Now, the same people we are trying to fight, they are using the unlawful strike as justification and claims that the workers vandalised City property,” Amupanda said.

“We know which way to fight for the betterment of people,” he added, implying that the method used by Amushelelo could put the employees’ jobs at jeopardy.

“It’s easier for people to do things for populism. Those workers would have been on the streets by now. But they are not because I fought and they know this. I am not at the same level as Michael. He can do his thing."

Illegal strike

Yesterday, workers handed over a petition to the City’s acting strategic executive for human capital and corporate services, Archie Nikanor. The group is expecting feedback from the City by Monday.

The workers are - amongst other things - demanding benefits for ward cleaners, a medical aid scheme, a pension fund contribution, housing schemes, danger allowance for working under difficult conditions and overtime for Saturdays.

They also want an annual bonus as well as psychosocial support.

The employees on 14 February downed tools, with City spokesperson Harold Akwenye saying the strike is illegal.

At the time, he said none of the authorities had been informed about the industrial action.


Namibian Sun 2023-03-29

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