Warmbad mining community appeals to Geingob
A faction of disgruntled members of the Warmbad mining community has appealed to President Hage Geingob to institute a disciplinary hearing on the Mine Workers Union for seeking to have the Tantalite mining licence revoked.
The community is at loggerheads with each other concerning the future of the mine with some calling for it to be given over to other investors due to people being retrenched.
As far as the petitioners are concerned, a shut down of the mine or revocation of its licence would leave many jobless although some have been retrenched already.
The petitioners are led by the Warmbad community leader and activist, Mathew Veldskoen as well as Laurentius Basson, Johanna Koffie, Ghulwyn Rooi and Floriana Witbooi.
The letter, dated October the 8th 2018 allege that MUN asked for the work permit of the mine’s chief executive officer, Larry Johnson to be revoked on baseless grounds.
“Is it because he has started to address the inequality amongst workers? Is it because he wants to do things the right way as the majority of the malpractices were being done before his term of office?”
“We have to bear in mind that Mr. Larry Johnson as CEO of the company has a company to run and his sole responsibility and accountability is to keep the company profitable and productive.”
“It seems some of us need some knowledge on how to run a company (business management). Who do the Union think they are that they can make decisions on our behalf?” they lashed out.
The petitioners have differed with MUN in that they argue that the Tantalite mine’s fortunes can be turned around if the water situation is finally fixed.
“It is with dismay that we have to inform our President that we are at a very sensitive stage regarding this matter, that can even cause fighting amongst each other, as some of us are already at each others’ throats, which means that the once peaceful community has become disturbed by selfish, egocentric, scamming ways of those who call themselves unionists,” said Veldskoen and crew.
Yet MUN has come out to say its position with regards to the mine has been misunderstood.
“We did not say revoke. We said and I will repeat it again, if the mine shareholders are not interested in mining let them give the license to some other shareholders so that they can start with water problems and start mining,” said MUN general secretary Ebenezer Zarondo.
He added that they were not against the residents.
With regards to allegations of MUN’s call to have the mine CEO’s work permit annulled, Zarondo said, “Look there are two different things. There is a behavioral problem from the chief executive officer. I think that was when the negotiating teams did not come together to reach an agreement.”
Yesterday, the community members and the mine had a hearing at the labour court.
“I received information that both parties have agreed that the company will go ahead. They will make sure that they get water from the sea and that project might take six months and after that, the mine will commence its duties as usual.”
He said other agreements were that employees would be taken back into their jobs after a completion of the water retention project.
Meanwhile, Veldskoen et al told the President that there were smear campaigns against some of them who were being called names, insulted, sworn at on social media, and their safety had been jeopardized.
They have also distanced themselves from a march of last week Friday, where some demonstrated against retrenchments.
Speaking to The Villager yesterday, Veldskoen said, surprisingly, some of those that took part in the demo were back at work, suggesting that they had been hired.
He said 13 of those that had been retrenched had also been taken back.
“The question, Your Excellency, that some of us have is, why should Tantalite Valley Mine be treated in such a harsh way, differently, whilst the other mines had also retrenched workers during the years before? This is unfair, Your Excellency, Honorable Ministers, this is ridiculous by the Union to put up a fight against a small mine that started three years back.”
“They are currently putting pressure on your leadership and even disrespect leaders you have entrusted in their respective positions, hereby referring to the Minister of Mines and Energy, Honorable Tom Alweendo and Honorable Minister Erkki Nghimtina, that’s why they are calling on the intervention of Right Honorable Prime Minister,” they said.